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Bluebills are here to help

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by MARK ST.J. COUHIG
Sequim Gazette


The Bluebills have migrated into Sequim and are looking to make a difference.

 

Bluebills is a Boeing-sponsored volunteer program that engages in a number of good works. One current priority is improving the safety of those living in Sequim, especially by reducing the number of falls that older citizens take.

 

Bluebills has 22 volunteers in town who are ready to provide an education on avoiding falls. They also can provide the manpower to install new safety equipment, if it’s needed.

 

Marvin Segar, the project coordinator for fall prevention, said falls are one of the biggest safety issues for those 65-plus.

 

“Seniors fall 14 million times a year in the U.S. One in three has a fall every year,” Segar said. “There are a lot of things we can do to help.”

 

The service begins with a home visit to determine safety needs. Those needs may include new grab bars or railings on stairs.

 

“We go through the home to make sure they have a safe environment,” Segar said, adding, “Bathrooms and garages are serious sources of injuries.”

 

While the service is free, the requesting homeowner may be asked to pay for the materials. No one should hesitate to call, however, because the organization also has a number of sponsors it turns to for assistance in purchasing the materials.

 

Sometimes the biggest difference isn’t made by what they add, but by what they remove from the home. “All throw rugs must go,” Segar said.

 

The volunteers also can install at no cost a medical alert system, activated by a medallion worn on the neck or wrist. The Bluebills work with Phillips Lifeline, which provides the installation and education free. There is a monthly charge for the service.

 

The organization is looking for more volunteers. While Bluebills was started by Boeing retirees, and Boeing still supports the organization, anyone who wants to help can join simply by signing up.
That doesn’t mean you’re ready immediately for field work. Training for volunteers is required.

A little history

The Bluebills started out by building ramps. These days they have expanded their line of services, including delivering school supplies to children and office supplies to nonprofits.

 

By partnering with World Vision, a do-good organization in Seattle, the Bluebills provide some 20 Clallam nonprofits — agencies, churches and schools — with quarterly deliveries of goods, from ballpoint pens to cleaning solutions. That includes the Forks schools, Parenting Matters, the Sequim Senior Activity Center, Serenity House and more.

 

Tracy Caldwell, operations manager of Healthy Families of Clallam County, said the “Bluebills help us by providing us with stock we can put in our shelters … things like clothes, books, kitchen items. They also usually have an offering of office supplies, which helps us stretch our budget.”

 

The school supplies are given directly to Title I schools, where at least 70 percent of students come from lower-income families.

 

Organizers say the Olympic Peninsula Bluebills provides opportunities for volunteers “to use their time, experience, skills and knowledge to work together to enhance the quality of life in their communities.”

To sign up for a home safety inspection, call Marvin Segar at 360-437-9514.

 

To volunteer, or to provide other assistance, call Eleanor Roden, membership chair, at 360-437-2354 (rodenem@olypen.com).
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