WIRE comforts displaced elderly citizens

(Left to right) Kelli McDowell, Lynn Elvis and Jessie Hendrick joined other members of Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE) from co-ops across the state to collect items for the Co-op Closet. The special program, a collaboration with the Lieutenant Governor's Office on Aging, assists displaced elderly people.

(Left to right) Kelli McDowell, Lynn Elvis and Jessie Hendrick joined other members of Women Involved in Rural Electrification (WIRE) from co-ops across the state to collect items for the Co-op Closet. The special program, a collaboration with the Lieutenant Governor’s Office on Aging, assists displaced elderly people.

IT WAS A LABOR OF LOVE, assembly line style, recently when about 30 WIRE volunteers from co-ops across South Carolina gathered to stuff Co-op Closet bags full of emergency supplies for displaced elderly citizens.

Among them were Kelli McDowell, Lynn Elvis, Jodi Braziel and Jessie Hendrick, four members of Horry Electric Cooperative’s chapter of WIRE (Women Involved in Rural Electrification). Members of the co-op community outreach organization came together Feb. 8 at The Electric Cooperatives of South Carolina Inc. (ECSC) in Cayce, responding to a request from S.C. Lieutenant Governor Glenn F. McConnell and the state Office on Aging.

The officials determined that elderly citizens too often are forgotten when group or nursing homes are ordered closed for safety or health violations, according to ECSC’s Peggy Dantzler, coördinator of the Co-op Closet project. “The lieutenant governor felt the cooperatives could help and WIRE is a natural extension of the co-ops’ community commitment,” she notes.

Writing to ECSC CEO Mike Couick, the lieutenant governor said WIRE helped meet a pressing need. “The ‘Co-op Closet,’ full of emergency relocation bags, gives hope to many South Carolinians — some of whom may have lived next door or down the street from you or me. The continued generosity of the WIRE women gives me hope that South Carolinians will not let a call for help go unanswered.”

The bags are kept at the Office on Aging, which determines who needs assistance around the state. As Dantzler notes, some recipients are destitute when they leave their group or nursing home, often the only home they’ve known for years. “They have nothing,” she says.

Dantzler says the bags – and the compassion of strangers –often astound the elderly recipients. “When they’re told it’s theirs to keep, they’re just stunned.”

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