Helping Hands of Vegas Valley benefits seniors by helping them get around the valley

LAS VEGAS - Getting around Las Vegas can be hard in the best of circumstances, but for the valley's seniors, and for those who can't drive, the task becomes a daily challenge.

Non-profits trying to meet the need are overwhelmed with demand and underfunded.  However, service providers are hoping for some help from Carson City.

Kevin Smith is proud of his collection of hats that hang in his apartment.

"I don't know, I just love hats," Smith said.

They're reminders of the teams he loves and cities he's visited, which are now places that are harder for him to get to know.

"I'm used to moving, shaking and moving," Smith said.

Years of working in airports and getting people on their way took its toll on Smith.

"Eventually, my knees just gave out, and my back," Smith said.
"Four surgeries on this one.  Two on this one."

Right now, Smith can get around his apartment using a mobile chair.

"I use this," Smith said pointing to his chair.  "But, I've banged up my apartment." "There's a lot of things the average guy my age can't do, but, I'm getting around pretty good."

However, Smith's chair can only go so far, so he uses Helping Hands of Vegas Valley.  It's a non-profit organization that gets senior citizens to the doctor and the grocery store.  It strives to maintain the person's independence.

However, the lack of resources is an inherent problem for the non-profit.  There's not a lot of resources."

"We're at capacity," said Dana Serrata, Helping Hands of Vegas Valley.

Dana Serrata is executive director of Helping Hands of Vegas Valley.  Her waiting list has more than 500 people on it.

"People are literally dying before they get service," Serrata said.

Most of the $1.2 million budget comes from the state, but there is a constant demand for rides and funding is a constant frustration.

Serrata would love to double her budget, but she knows it's not likely, so she's pushing for a bump of any kind.

On Wednesday, senior services was one of many topics for lawmakers in Carson City.

"Right now, we're living or dying by what the legislature decides to do," Serrata said.

There are more than 300,000 senior citizens in the Las Vegas valley.  Helping Hands serves 1,000 senior citizens a year.


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