Speaker at YMRA meeting discusses safety

Donnakaye Ostrander speaks at a recent YMRA meeting.

The Yucaipa Mobilehome Residents’ Association (YMRA) had its first meeting of the year, outside at the Yucaipa Woman’s Club on Feb. 13. The group is meeting outside, when weather permits, due to the restrictions the state has placed on mass gatherings.

YMRA Chairman Shirley Dalton encouraged those in attendance to get their vaccine for COVID-19 and provided a list where one could obtain one.

San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Senior Advocate Donnakaye Ostrander spoke on the program “You Are Not Alone” (YANA) phone alert which is a volunteer community service program sponsored by the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department and is free for the public. It is designed to make periodic checks on the well-being of the participants. Participants consist of seniors 55 and older, shut-ins, and people who live alone including a person with a disability who is younger than 55 and lives alone.

If you do not live in San Bernardino County, you can contact the Sheriff’s Department in the county you live in to see if this program is available in your area.

Ostrander said, “YANA is a program that was developed in the Sheriff’s Department years ago and then it fell by the wayside.”

Ostrander continued by saying, “When I came from Montana, I brought it back to Yucaipa. It is called You Are Not Alone. This program is for shut-ins, or it can be for somebody who has panic attacks and wants to be checked on. It could be for anybody that feels like something could happen to me in the middle of the night and what if I fall.”

“It’s not that our kids call us everyday, a lot of times I’ve gone to homes because we couldn’t get a hold of them and they are wedged between the bed and the wall and they have been there for hours or they are laying on the cold floor in the bathroom on the tile and they are shaking so bad they can’t even speak. These things happen. In a heartbeat you can trip over the cat, the dog, anything,” Ostrander said.

The Sheriff’s Department has an application for those interested in signing up for this program. A volunteer calls the participant every morning at an assigned time that is determined by the participant and the sheriff’s volunteer when signing up. The calls are made Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m.

Ostrander said, “If you are not feeling well, you can have the volunteer call you in the evening and we’d be more than happy to do that.”

If a person is called and there is no response, a person the participant has designated that has a key to their home and who lives close is asked to go check on them. If the person who is designated to check on a participant can’t be reached, the sheriff’s volunteer goes out to check on the participant. They will knock on the door and if there is no answer, they will go around the residence and knock on the windows and any other doors and listen for sounds. If nothing is heard, the volunteer will call dispatch to send out a deputy.

Ostrander said that participants will forget they have a doctor’s appointment or something like that and they forget to call the volunteer service to let them know they will not be home, so they go out and check.

“We are here for you. It is free. It is my passion. I belong to many organizations. I’m with the Red Cross, I’ve served Yucaipa. I do disaster actions, trauma for the Red Cross so this is my passion. My second one is getting smoke detectors in every mobilehome in Yucaipa and Calimesa. That is very important to me,” Ostrander said.

Several volunteers are involved in this program and Ostrander said that the volunteers and the participants have all become friends through this program. An adult child can sign a parent up for YANA and Ostrander emphasized that there is no charge for this program, it is a free service for the community.

Dalton said Ostrander will be returning in the future to speak to the group about senior safety.

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