POCATELLO, Idaho - One group of volunteers have been appointed under each county across the region to act as guardians for the community.
In fact, in Bannock County, the Board of Community Guardians have been around and flying under the radar for almost two decades. The board is made up of a group of volunteers throughout the community who take care of those who cannot take care of themselves.
The board's Director Lance Peck said the Bannock County board is down to only eight volunteers, and yet they are seeing a tremendous rise in the number of people who need the group's assistance.
"We pay their bills, we make sure they are getting healthcare, etc.," Peck said. "Basically, we just act as a parent."
He said most times they are helping the elderly in the community since they are abandoned or taken advantage of by family members, left at risk for abuse and without a dime to their names.
"Sometimes these individuals are vulnerable and they are being taken advantage of, unfortunately," Peck added.
He pointed-out that more and more families are also facing financial hardships, not allowing them to provide proper care for their elderly family members.
He recalled a time where one elderly woman was placed in an assisted care facility after her only relative stole money from her, leaving her unable to pay her medical bills. Since she didn't have proper insurance, the facility had to serve her an eviction notice in order for the woman to legally get the funding necessary to pay for her stay at the facility along with medical treatment.
But, that case isn't too uncommon.
"With many cutbacks in state funding and various programs, there are people who find themselves in desperate situations...where the resources in our community are becoming more limited, people just don't have the resources or access to these resources that they used to," Peck said.
Although the board of volunteers is working under limited funding from the county, they are making due with what they have and Peck said they are not asking for more money from the county - just volunteers.
Bannock County commissioner Steve Hadley stepped-up as a volunteer this past week after visiting with the board.
He said there is a tremendous need for assistance in the community.
"We need some community volunteers to help these people out," Hadley said. "There are only eight people on the board and they can't do everything...we need to give real kudos to what this board has been doing to help those in the community who can't help themselves."
Peck said since their funds are limited, attorney and court fees seem like a mountain of expenses when these cases come down. But, they've been lucky enough to avoid that.
"Our court system has been really kind in most cases to waive fees for these individuals just to help our citizens," Peck said.
He said the board is looking for people with skilled areas of expertise to round-out the abilities of the board, such as: legal counseling, medical insurance claims, etc.
If interested in becoming a volunteer, you can contact Peck at: Bannock.firstname.lastname@example.org or 208.478.6595