SHERIDAN — The dog days of summer have hit Sheridan, and some local senior citizens will have an extra set of eyes on them this year when temperatures peak.
A national initiative, dubbed “The Shade Brigade,” has hit Sheridan thanks to staffers at Sheridan’s Emeritus at Sugarland Ridge. Brigade operations include visiting the homes of seniors within the community to deliver coolers full of water, ice packs, fruit and other heat-beating equipment.
Tammy Yelton-Boone, community relations director, says The Shade Brigade developed from existing programs geared toward community service.
“We are concerned about seniors in our community and making sure they’re safe,” Yelton-Boone said. “We have a what we call ‘Safely Somewhere,’ so whether (Emeritus) is the best fit for them or whether they’re at home, we want to make sure they’re OK.”
Yelton-Boone said summer heat waves can pose a threat to anyone, but seniors are sometimes more susceptible to heat injury.
“With the temperatures being so high, there’s a danger of dehydration,” she said. “But they can keep the cooler next to them wherever they are and don’t have to keep getting up and going to the fridge to get water.”
Executive Director Theresa Hamilton said Shade Brigade visits act as a great opportunity to make sure seniors living alone have the necessary information and amenities in their home to stay comfortable during the dog days of summer.
“Sometimes their air conditioning goes out, especially when the days get really hot,” she said. “We’re pretty well-connected with other resources in the community, and we can help them call to get it fixed.”
Along with goods delivered is an invitation to join Emeritus residents for a free meal in their air-conditioned dining room. However, The Shade Brigade isn’t considered to be a recruitment tool. Though there is presently an opening at the facility, most of the time, it’s booked to capacity.
Yelton-Boone says the project is about community welfare.
“We’re asking the community if they see someone, a neighbor, at church, wherever, and they think there’s a safety issue and they’re having problems with the heat or hydration, to let us know,” she said. “We’ll check on them and make sure they’re safe.”
Hamilton says the program has been running for approximately a week and a half and has already had a strong response.
“We get some referrals from the senior center, or just people who know them,” she said. “Maybe it’s just an extra set of eyes or another person to visit the senior.”
Visits from The Shade Brigade are generally not announced, and Yelton-Boone said while it’s clear most residents are caught by surprise during the visits, they appreciate the company and gifts.
The Shade Brigade is taking information from the public regarding possible senior citizens to visit. Sheridan residents can request a visit from The Shade Brigade by calling Emeritus at Sugarland Ridge at 674-5575.