Rogoff Scholarship Winner Brings Safety Home

Lauren Ritchie of Lancaster NY, the first winner of the Arlayne & Stephen D. Rogoff Scholarship, learned to prevent injuries through a very personal experience: caring for her beloved grandmother.

The Rogoff Scholarship application requires an essay outlining the candidate’s personal experience with a preventable injury or in-home danger and their plans to generate awareness or educate others on such risks. In her essay, Ritchie wrote of her close relationship with her grandmother, “my first true friend.”  When a near-fatal infection and multiple surgeries left her grandmother needing assistance, prone to falls, and vulnerable to injuries in her own home, “She became more dependent on me and our roles were reversed.”

The steps that Ritchie and her family took to protect her grandmother make a good checklist for anyone: They reviewed her home for tripping hazards and removed them, placed night lights, and bought grab bars, non-slip mat, and a shower seat for the bathroom. They installed smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors in main areas and the bedroom, and, crucially, put reminders in family member’s calendars to regularly change each detector’s battery.

With these devices and prevention measures in place, Ritchie wrote, “I began to see her life return to normal again.” Now 91, her grandmother continues to live independently.

Ritchie plans to continue to spread awareness of preventable injuries as a Physician Assistant specializing in gerontology.

The Arlayne & Stephen D. Rogoff Scholarship was established by their children — Scott, Brett and Robyn — along with their families and the Prevention 1st Board of Directors.  Mr. Rogoff was a tremendous friend to Prevention 1st, and co-founded the organization’s first major fund raiser, a Golf Tournament in 2013. The $1,000 scholarships are awarded to recipients who best demonstrate Stephen’s empathetic and actionable character. For more information contact info@prevention1st.og.

Senior Safety Marshals Help Reduce Fire Risk

In the crowded Lily Café, the Prevention 1st Senior Safety Marshals know how to get and keep the attention of their peers. They begin their presentation with a stark fact: “People our age are 6 times more likely to die in a fire.”

The Senior Safety Marshals then share stories of mistakes they themselves have made that put them at risk—a candle left smoldering, falling asleep while smoking, coming home from a night out and carelessly frying some chicken. Their audience nods in recognition. They have all made careless mistakes that could have turned into tragedies.

Finally, the team shares with their fully engaged audience such simple but effective strategies as keeping a phone next to the bed, having good night lighting, turning off the cooktop if they leave the kitchen while cooking, and taking proper precautions if they have oxygen tanks in their home.

Through funding from the John F. Wegman Fund of the Rochester Area Community Foundation and Prevention 1st donors, Prevention 1st recruited and trained the six Safety Marshals through the Lily Café program run by Lifespan at the Maplewood YMCA. Prior to their six weeks of training together, most of the team members didn’t know each other. Now, “we’re a family.”

They’re spreading fire safety messages throughout their communities. Bill, who lives in a housing complex of four buildings, has recruited three volunteers to work with him as fire monitors, communicating with residents about preparation and response and checking fire escapes to make sure they are clear. Sheron is now regularly posting fire safety information and reminders to her friends through Facebook. Inez is determined to make sure that all of her neighbors have working smoke alarms: “The young think ‘It can’t happen to me’ and the old think ‘It hasn’t happened to me yet.’ Well, it can. I ask my neighbors, did you check your smoke alarm, did you change the battery?”

Robert Crandall, the Prevention 1st trainer who trained the Senior Safety Marshals and who is a retired firefighter, noted the effectiveness of this peer-to-peer strategy: “The fire department tells people these things all the time, but when the information is personalized and comes from a peer and neighbor, people are more motivated to take action.”

As the population 65 and older continues to grow, this model has an important role in community safety and in reducing the burden of caregiving, according to Michelle LeBoo, Lifespan Program Coordinator: “They’re providing a type of caregiving. They are caring for their peers, helping them avoid injuries and remain in their homes safely for a longer time.”

Following their presentation to their fellow Café participants, the team is scheduling additional trainings at area senior centers, residences, and other community program sites. They’re also reaching out to potential sponsors to enhance the program with additional safety giveaways and materials, and to attract others to become more involved in fire safety.

In addition to working with the Lily Café participants, the Prevention 1st training team presented to the staff and key volunteers of an additional ten senior organizations, including the Monroe County Office for the Aging, Refugees Helping Refugees, Ontario ARC, Bay View Family YMCA, Monroe Community Hospital, Catholic Family Center, Charles Settlement House, and the Summit at Brighton, ultimately reaching well over 1,000 older adults.

If you’d like to learn more about the Senior Safety Marshals program, please contact Molly Clifford at (585) 383-6507 or MollyClifford@prevention1st.org