Written by: Susan Sizemore, Communications Director, FiftyForward

When Nolan Starks contacted us in late October 2021, she was distraught because she could not make ends meet. Her worst fear was that she might lose her longtime family home.

The home had been purchased, in 1899, by her father from a farmer in the community. Ms. Starks, who is 77 years old, told our staff she had been born in the house and explained additions were added to the original structure as “more children came along” and they needed additional space.

She recalled countless memories in that loving home, but now it was in disrepair. Ms. Starks had been struggling to buy food and medications each month. When she found her way to the agency, FiftyForward care managers immediately became focused on finding solutions to provide peace of mind to her and for her family.

During her initial assessment, FiftyForward discovered that the roof leaked, the home’s bathroom floor was falling in, and they swiftly realized she needed an ally and an advocate for other things as well. In addition, Ms. Starks’ daughter and grandchildren also reside with her. As a family, they were not only emotionally tied to their more than 100-year-old family home, but they were also financially strapped due to escalating prices of real estate in the Nashville market.

As a first step, FiftyForward reached out to its longtime partner Westminster Home Connection (also funded by West End Home Foundation) to learn how they might help. Not only were they able to assist with the much-needed repairs; they were also willing to retrofit a bathroom with a walk-in shower to make bathing safer for Ms. Starks.

In looking at her 2020 taxes, FiftyForward care managers also realized they had not yet been filed. This is not an unusual situation, according to FiftyForward care managers, older adults often have so many things to concentrate on – including health challenges – that setting priorities and tackling them one at a time may be daunting and overwhelming.

The FiftyForward Living at Home Supportive care management team was able to help educate the Starks family about the tax freeze and tax relief program available through the Office of the Metropolitan Trustee in Davidson County. Care managers assisted and empowered Ms. Starks’ daughter to help her mother apply for this assistance. The best news of all is the hard work paid off. Ms. Starks qualified for both the tax freeze and the tax relief programs which reduced her tax bills. She was then able to reallocate her available income to meet other needs. Without FiftyForward, the Starks family would not have known about the home renovation and tax relief assistance available to them. These newly found resources were essential to ensure the Starks could remain in their longtime family home.

FiftyForward is proud to support, champion, and enhance the lives of older adults in Middle Tennessee. Funding from The West End Home Foundation helps FiftyForward reach and serve a unique demographic segment that is often overlooked and undervalued. Older adults in Middle Tennessee are fortunate to have a friend in the West End Home Foundation.

In 2020, FiftyForward Supportive Care assisted 649 clients with services. FiftyForward Living at Home Care Management supported 346 older adults who struggle with day-to-day obstacles including limited resources (social and financial), functional limitations, and isolation. West End Home Foundation funding helps FiftyForward Supportive Care team members continue to focus on and serve older adults in our community. Thanks to this initial assessment and the relationship FiftyForward has now built, Ms. Starks has a trusted ally to contact should she need help in the future.

As repairs continue with the family home and Ms. Starks experiences relief and assistance with her taxes and daily living, there is a newfound appreciation and a brighter new year ahead for her thanks to these meaningful collaborations.

Here’s to our continued work with like-minded community partners who are focused on helping older adults gain access to resources they so desperately need.