Every month, the living room and garage floors of Fay Josephs' home reflect her desire to help area seniors make ends meet.
Household and personal-care items that many of us take for granted — toilet paper, shampoo, conditioner, soap, detergent, mouthwash, denture cleaner, and more — sit ready to be sorted, bagged and distributed to seniors who are living near or below the poverty line in units.
Through the two-year-old Save Our Seniors program, Josephs and a group of 8 to 10 volunteers band together to deliver the goods one Saturday every month. The effort reaches 50 seniors who have Social Security incomes of less than $1,000 per month and wouldn’t otherwise be able to purchase these goods. Eventually, with an association with the Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute, she hopes to take the effort county-wide.
“Rain or shine, every one gets their bag,” said Josephs, who adds that SOS also provides meals during the winter holidays. “They’re ecstatic waiting for that bag every month. … They’ve become my adopted people.
"It's a great opportunity to serve these seniors in Lawrenceville and we're hoping to serve the entire Gwinnett population of seniors. Hopefully, we can do this; the sooner the better."
Save Our Seniors is one of the programs Josephs coordinates through Sistas Circle, Inc., a Lawrenceville-based non profit she founded to “empower, encourage and support women and young girls.”
The program began after an eye-opening conversation Josephs, a case worker with Gwinnett Department of Family and Children Services, had with a senior citizen a couple of years ago. A lady told her that she used laundry detergent to wash her dishes because she couldn’t afford a bottle of dish soap.
“I said to her, ‘Where do you live?’” said Josephs. “When I brought her a bag [of cleaning supplies and personal items] she was very happy.”
Josephs created SOS as a project through her participation in the 2010 Gwinnett Neighborhood Leadership Institute, a grassroots leadership training program of the Gwinnett Coalition for Health and Human Services.
What Josephs’ GNLI project team started has grown to the point that another GNLI team is hoping to eventually take it county-wide.
“That is our goal, to expand this to everywhere in Gwinnett,” said David Adams, a member of 2012 GNLI “FullHouse” leadership team, which aims to get the job done through connecting with local businesses and the community to pledge their assistance. “Lawrenceville is the starting place.”
The next step of “FullHouse” is to help expand Save Our Seniors to serve all of the 80 Lawrenceville seniors identified as living below the poverty line, as well as about 20 in the Buford area.
“Her project came to us and it was a great fit,” Adams said. “To me, it’s providential. My Dad’s 89. My Mom’s 82 … We cannot overlook the needs of our seniors.”
Monthly supplies may include, but are not limited to: four rolls of toilet paper, a roll of paper towels, three bars of soaps, bottles of shampoo, conditioner, lotion, dish detergent, laundry detergent and mouth wash, shaving supplies and garbage bags.
By pushing for pledges and even individual donations, FullHouse hopes to help Josephs serve the 80 Lawrenceville seniors by the end of the year. The team will focus on local businesses.
“It can be anything to help. It’s not expensive at all,” Adams said. “We want local businesses to wrap their arms around this, to better tie them to the community.”
Adams says FullHouse is all-in on SOS.
“It’s incredible what Fay has been doing for two years,” he said.
“And it’s going to continue,” she added.
For more info on Save Our Seniors or to offer your support, please call 678-978-4963 or visit the website.