By Amanda Haberlein
Public Relations/Communications Coordinator
Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan
This time of year many may reflect on what they have to be thankful for and for some, this includes a desire to volunteer their time to help others. While older adults are able and welcome to volunteer anywhere, some find it more appealing to volunteer with organizations that cater specifically to older adults. The following agencies either utilize senior volunteers throughout the community or use volunteers to serve older adults specifically.
Friendly Visitor Program – This program pairs volunteers with older adults who feel extremely isolated, lonely or are homebound. Volunteers make weekly social visits with the goal of providing companionship and helping seniors remain mentally and physically active and connected to their community. The Friendly Visitor program accepts volunteers of all ages who want to make a positive impact on the life of a senior. They are partnered with an older adult for flexible one hour weekly visits and are encouraged to commit to at least one year with the program, although many build lasting relationships
To find out more, contact Spectrum Health Visiting Nurse Association Volunteer Services at 616-486-3956.
Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) – This organization pairs older adult volunteers with non-profit agencies within Kent County. Senior volunteers can work in a number of ways including transporting older adults to medical appointments, providing other older adults with companionship, serving in food pantries and tutoring early elementary grade students to increase literacy, and much more. RSVP staff can help volunteers identifying opportunities within these focus areas that best match with their interests and/or skills.
For more information, contact Senior Neighbors’ RSVP program at 616-459-9509
Senior Companion Program –The program trains and provides a stipend for low-income seniors to care for older adults who are homebound, frail or who have mental and/or physical disabilities. Volunteers may come to the home to provide companionship for the senior, a break for a family caregiver, or companionship and support at a congregate meal site where seniors eat together. These visits often help older adults overcome feelings of loneliness and isolation some older adults experience.
For more information on this program, contact Senior Neighbors at 616-459-6019.
Meal Drivers and Packers – Meals on Wheels Western Michigan is always looking for volunteers to either help package or deliver home delivered meals. Volunteers can be any age and ability who are interested in helping provide nutritious meals to homebound seniors.
For more information on this program, contact Meals on Wheels West Michigan at 616-459-3111.
Still want to volunteer, but none of the above opportunities seem like a good fit for you? Check out Heart of West Michigan United Way’s Volunteer Center for opportunities organized by topic, location and keywords. For more information, visit http://connect.hwmuw.org/
For more details on Area Agency on Aging of Western Michigan or services specific to older adults, visit www.aaawm.org or call at 616-456-5664.