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neighborhood letter carrier wants to help
Carrier Alert is a cooperative community
service program to monitor the well- being
of elderly and disabled mail patrons. As one
of the few--and some days only-- point of
human contact for home-bound patrons, letter
carriers are particularly attuned to signs
that could mean an accident or illness.
Carrier Alert, begun in 1982, is a system to
tap into that sensitivity.
When a volunteer carrier notes something
unusual concerning a patron registered with
Carrier Alert, he or she reports it to a
postal supervisor or other designated
individual who in turn contacts the
sponsoring local agency. They check on the
person and if something's wrong, contact
family, police or emergency services as
Carrier Alert is a joint program of the NALC
and the Postal Service, but its foundation
is built on the local service organization,
which might be the local United Way, Red
Cross or Agency on Aging.
The agency handles promotion, registration,
administration, establishing local
procedures and funding.
Because participation is voluntary and
operation depends on local agencies, the
Carrier Alert program is well established in
some regions and little known in others.
Where it is in use it earns constant
praise--just as letter carriers across the
nation do every day, with or without a
formal program, for their vigilance.
Delivering mail to the same residences day
after day, letter carriers become familiar
with customers' habits and often notice
changes in routine that mean a patron is in
distress. Accumulating mail is a common
clue, but lights burning in midday, pet dogs
crying, drawn draperies, or no tracks in the
snow--all can signal trouble within.
To find out if there is a Carrier Alert
program operating in your neighborhood or
the community where an elderly or homebound
loved one lives, contact the local NALC
branch office or post office.
NALC branches that want to explore the
possibility of establishing Carrier Alert in
their community, should contact the local
postmaster and major social service
agencies. NALC branches can also
contact NALC Headquarters to get
Carrier Alert Information Packets on
how to start a local program.