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Frye aims to help seniors stay in homes

Judi Frye

Judi Frye has been named executive director of the area's "hub of senior services" - the Living at Home program.

The program that mobilizes volunteers to enable seniors to remain in their home of choice is "of great value to the community," Frye said.

She refers to the worth in both "neighbor helping neighbor" humanitarian terms and in monetary value - volunteers compared with private, for-hire services.

Living at Home works with the network of resources available to seniors, including adult day care, caregiver support, the Heartland Express, home care nursing, hospice, Meals on Wheels and other services.

Frye moved from Minot, N.D. where she worked for 11 years as a travel wholesaler for MLT Vacations. She brings a background in planning, organization and process analysis. She has also worked in medical clinics, including Park Rapids-Walker Eye Clinic, and as a casual physical therapist coordinator at St. Joseph's.

Traditionally, she said, people have moved from home to nursing home. Frye hopes to stretch the length of time seniors spend at home, "being an active part of the community," before moving to assisted living or nursing home facilities.

"The longer they remain as functioning individuals in society, the better for the community," she said.

During the last fiscal year, 123 volunteers served 245 seniors, logging 4,500 volunteer hours via Living at Home.

Nearly 1,000 rides were provided to residents 65 and over in southern Hubbard County - including Nevis and Akeley - and Osage and Two Inlets. The assisted seniors were escorted to doctor's appointments, hairdressers, grocery stores and other destinations.

Frye recently spoke to a woman in California whose mother lives independently in Park Rapids, assuaging her concerns.

Volunteers also play key handyman roles, stepping in to make repairs.

Frye plans to engage community members in new and existing fundraising initiatives to raise dollars and awareness of the program.

Living at Home seeks support through donations, fundraisers, state funding and grants.

The 2011-12 Living at Home board also includes some new faces, including Frank Schaap, Rev. Laurie Kantonen, Susan Monsrud and Gary Mickelson.

A caregiver discussion group meets at 2 p.m. the fourth Wednesday of every month at St. Joseph's, with new participants welcome.