Elayne’s Story

Elayne learns valuable skills through United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior program

My name is Elayne Masters and I’m 62 years old. I spent my career as a writer, editor, and consultant working with educational publishers, business and authors. In 2015 I had a life-changing event. While caring for my mother I ended up falling down the basement stairs and landed on my head. I sustained a brain injury that went undiagnosed for over 2 years.

As a result, I have vision issues, balance problems and—and most significant—cognitive issues that make it difficult to process information or simply figure things out. Although I can no longer work, I’m tenacious and kept looking for resources and information that could help me through my day-to-day challenges. I initially received help from North Hills Community Outreach’s food pantry. It was there that I found United Way’s 2-1-1  phone number that has been an invaluable resource. I located services and became a part of United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior program. Volunteers take me to medical appointments so that I can get treatment I otherwise would have to do without.

As part of this program, a woman comes every Monday to help me. She’s been my absolute sidekick. We go through my mail, make phone calls, and fill out forms together. The support of United Way volunteers like her has made all the difference in the world.

For example, when I fell, the hunger part in my brain was damaged and I would go all day without eating. I was so confused. She helped me apply for and receive cognitive rehabilitation services. My therapists help me develop strategies to remember to eat, take my medications, shower, and use a planner to schedule activities so that I remember where I’m going and what I need to do.

North Hills Community Outreach and United Way’s Open Your Heart to a Senior saved my life. They were there for me. For anyone who is struggling, I would tell them that United Way’s 2-1-1 line is a wonderful thing. Help is just a phone call away. Just be brave enough to step up and ask for the help you need.

Thanks to the generous support of United Way donors, United Way helps seniors like Elayne live independently and safely in their own homes for as long as possible. United Way provides funds to North Hills Community Outreach, a non-profit organization that helps individuals facing hardship and poverty.