HOUSTON - Normally when a bunch of officers show up at someone’s house you say "Oh no. What happened?" but in this case, the better question is "Oh my. What did they bring?"
I went along with deputies from Harris County Precinct 3 Constable’s Office who, yes, had their guns and handcuffs but they also had their smiles and some pretty nice gifts with them. You see, it’s all part of their RUOK? Program.
"Oh my goodness," smiles Mother of 3 Bobbie Madkins. The Mother’s Day weekend surprise the deputies gave her was a welcomed pop-up party for Ms. Bobbie. "I just appreciate everything," she says. Madkins is in Harris County Constable Precinct 3’s RUOK? Program for senior citizens.
"The program is exciting because it builds relationships. It helps change the quality of life in some seniors," explains Precinct 3 Major David Jones.
"We have so many seniors they’re suffering in silence. They’re right here in our own neighborhoods," adds Precinct 3 RUOK? Coordinator Charlotte Jackson who wanted to take part because she fell in love with the idea way back when her mom was a City of Houston volunteer with senior citizens in the 1970’s. "Giving is in my DNA," she smiles.
There are 500 seniors in RUOK? and CASA, the Spanish-speaking initiative. As part of the program, every day Precinct 3 deputies call enrolled seniors, reaching out to each once a week to check on them.
"We talk about plants that died over the freeze. We talk about food we ate, what we’re going to cook," explains Precinct 3 CASA Coordinator Rebecca Gonzales.
"We’ll take them food, water. We’ll take them microwaves, other appliances they might need, help with lawns that need cutting," says Major Jones and they’ve even helped find seniors a ride to church. "I spoke with the pastors and they yes, of course, we’re right here. Give me their names and numbers. We’ll get someone to pick them up for church," says Jackson.
The deputies also, for holidays like Mother’s Day, take presents to participants. "It makes us all smile," grins Major Jones.
"If you’re 55 and older you can qualify for the program," Gonzales explains. If the deputies can’t reach the seniors by phone they go to their home. "It’s just part of it. It’s a way to keep them safe. We check on them. We get to know them," explains Jackson.
"I had a lady come to my house. She taught me how to cook a dish I always wanted to cook. I met her in the program. She’s one of my seniors. She came to my house and cooked for me and my husband," smiles Gonzales.
Major Jones recently put a woman in the program whose loved ones couldn’t reach her. "Her mom had recently died. She was kind of depressed and I went in I said we’re family now. You gotta let me in and I was also able to get her vaccinated".
"During the pandemic, our seniors have been at home sitting on the edge of the couch waiting for the phone to ring," says Jackson. Precinct 3 Constable Sherman Eagleton implemented RUOK? In 2017. "He’s one of 12 children and when his father passed away the community had to help raise him and his siblings. So he has that big place in his heart for senior adults," Jackson explains.