Age Well at Home seeking additional volunteers

By: 
Gretchen Mensink Lovejoy

Age Well at Home, formerly Chatfield’s Help Our Neighbors senior assistance program linking senior citizens to volunteers who can lend a hand to keep them independent in their own homes, is short several people who can make the difference for their neighbors. 

“Right now, we are in need of volunteers to fill all of the services that we provide,” stated coordinator Tina Kerns. “We have 15 volunteers on our call list, but because of jobs, families or other obligations, we have five who have been active the past year.”

Kerns said it would be nice to have 20 active volunteers for two reasons: So the service doesn’t have to rely on the same people all of the time; and with a bigger volunteer list, a wider variety of talents are available. 

“We like to offer transportation, light housekeeping, seasonal chore services such as shoveling and mowing, and respite care or telephone assurance calls,” she said. “But when volunteers are not available, we can’t always get requests filled. 

“Our Age Well at Home program helps keep our seniors independent and in their homes.  Some of them are very dependent on our program, and it is hard to tell them that I am unable to fulfill a request because of lack of volunteers.  Not everybody has family or friends close to help them, so this program is sometimes the only thing keeping them from going into assisted living or nursing homes.”

Volunteers can be anyone from the community who has compassion and time to give to Chatfield’s elder citizens. People age 55 and older can volunteer through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), but younger people are also able to volunteer. 

“Volunteering anywhere is so rewarding,” Kerns said. “It connects you with others, it is good for your mind and body, and it brings fun and fulfillment into your life.” 

Volunteers are eligible for mileage reimbursement and supplemental insurance while volunteering.  People interested in volunteering fill out an application and have a background check.  The information on the application can help match people with older adults based on mutual interests and the types of jobs of which they are willing to help. 

“Nobody has a requirement of hours that they need to commit to – it might be a few times a month or a few times a year. Anything helps,” she said.

“Nonprofit organizations depend on the kindness of volunteers, but often, volunteers benefit as much as the recipient.  No matter the time length or talents that you can share, you are making a difference in others’ lives,” Kerns said. “This program helps both the seniors and the volunteers by keeping the seniors engaged in the community and giving the volunteer a purpose as well.  We see many new friendships formed between volunteers and senior citizens.  Some of our homebound seniors are lonely, and sometimes a simple phone call or visit can make their day. 

“And Age Well at Home helps Chatfield by connecting the community and making it a better place for everybody to reside.  Helping others kindles happiness, and every community benefits from more kindness in their communities.  The reality is that we are all aging, and chances are that we will need help someday.  Be the type of neighbor that you hope to have someday.”     

Potential volunteers who would like more information may contact Kerns at Age Well at Home in Chatfield at 507-251-0520, and seniors who would like to have services carried out at their homes may use the same contact to arrange for volunteers to visit them.