Community Resources for Independent Seniors (CRIS)

Community Resources for Independent Seniors (CRIS)

For Hume Laidman, retirement opened the door to volunteering full time. His long history of intercontinental travel and working abroad with the Carrier Corporation often kept him on the road or in the air, but now Hume spends his time as an active volunteer in Cazenovia, NY community organizations.

A soft spoken man of 83, Hume has always been sensitive to the needs of seniors in Central NY. Hume’s work with the Board of the Chamber of Commerce of his town sparked a discussion about the lacking resources for older adults.

With a goal of keeping Cazenovia area seniors in their homes and living independently, Hume helped found Community Resources for Independent Seniors (CRIS).

Hume explains the need, “We were concerned that the seniors were leaving Cazenovia to go to other places in their retirement years. There is no public transportation in Cazenovia whatsoever.” “There are barely any taxis,” adds Diane Ryan, another member of the Board. The need for transportation was a burden on the seniors in this area, and on their family members who often lived far away.

Out of this necessity, CRIS-CAT (Cazenovia Area Transportation) was born. Since its inception, the program has grown rapidly.

55 volunteer drivers have already made 2,119 complimentary trips for clients in the Cazenovia Area, covering about 69,422 miles since the start of the program.

“The rides average about 30 miles each,” Hume adds, “and we usually average about 600 trips annually, all for no cost to the clients.”

Hume and CRIS’s mission is to keep older adults independent and living in their own homes. “We can provide rides to get seniors who can no longer drive to their doctors appointments, or to the grocery store, or on any other errands they might need. This enables them to stay at home longer,” Hume said. Seniors also face challenges with daily tasks within their homes. Other programs from CRIS, the Time Bank and Lend a Hand, addressed this need. Volunteers sign up to do minor repairs, maintenance & other tasks that may seem daunting to a senior.

Hume contributed many hours of effort and dedication to jumpstart this project. He worked for six months on a grant that would allow the town to start CRIS and to make its services accessible to all. “We have a lot of frugal people in Cazenovia, and I’m one of them,” Hume laughed. “We tried to keep the cost down for members of CRIS, but comparable transportation services usually charge a membership fee.” The need for such services was great in Cazenovia, so the Board eventually decided to offer transportation through their new CRIS-CAT (Cazenovia Area Transportation) at no cost to clients.

The impact has been incredible. More seniors are able to live at home in Cazenovia, and their social circles have grown as friendships form between drivers and clients.

“We’re trying to keep statistics, but sometimes the rides don’t get logged because it’s just friends giving friends rides,” Hume joked.

Going forward, Hume will use his own experiences to help shape the programming of CRIS and the direction of the Board. “I’m 83! I’ve been a senior for a while, and things move a little bit faster at my age. If CRIS can help any senior in the area stay at home and remain independent for a little while longer, then it’s been a success.”