Catholic Social Services (CSS) and Connections Volunteer Center, a program of HelpLine, have partnered to coordinate the Senior Companion Program (SCP). The program, funded in part by SourcePoint, helps reduce loneliness and isolation for seniors by providing friendship, socialization and help with errands through weekly home visits. Visitation helps seniors continue to live independently and connect with the community, which is essential for mental health and well-being.
Senior Companions visit older adult clients two to three hours a week and participate in activities such as grocery shopping, personal errands, playing games, visiting the SourcePoint Enrichment Center, taking walks or just talk. Activities vary according to the client’s interests, abilities and needs.
The program was developed more than 50 years ago as a federal program to help low-income seniors stay active in the community by providing them with a tax-free allowance for their time and mileage. Serving as a Senior Companion is just as beneficial to volunteers as it is to the clients they serve. Many senior volunteer companions, like their clients, experienced loneliness, isolation, and a desire to find purpose in their daily lives before coming to the program.
Many senior companions have visited their clients for several years, naturally developing lasting friendships. Zelda McDaniel and Jean Gilcrest enjoy spending time singing songs and playing the piano. They also color adult coloring books together, sit outside in the fresh air, and keep their conversations interesting using conversation cards.
Suzanne Pingry, Program Director at the Connections Volunteer Centre, said: “This program is about connecting people – it makes it easier for seniors to interact who might otherwise be completely isolated from others and gives volunteers the chance to make a difference. .”
Tony Parks, director of the Senior Companion Program for Catholic Social Services, added: “I have seen firsthand the difference the company can make to someone – especially in these last two years of the pandemic.
The SCP is currently recruiting volunteers who enjoy helping others, want to be active, have a desire to make a difference in the community and need extra income. To become a Senior Companion, you must be 55+ and complete a pre-screening and background check. To participate as a customer, the program is free and open to eligible adults age 60 and older, regardless of race, color, national origin, disability, sexual orientation, political affiliation, or race. religion.
Volunteer training will be offered this summer by Delaware County Catholic Social Services. Those interested in learning more about training or becoming an SCP volunteer can visit ConnectionsVolunteerCenter.org; contact Suzanne Pingry at [email protected] or 740-363-5000; or contact Catholic Social Services at colscss.org or 614-857-1211.
Senior companion Zelda McDaniel and client Jean Gilcrest enjoy spending time singing songs and playing the piano.
Submitted by Connections Volunteer Center.