It is a sad story to tell, but it happens all too often these days.
More often than we realize, seniors face isolation, hunger and a poor quality of life simply because they are hesitant to accept help or have no loved ones close by. For seniors living on a fixed income, often decisions must be made on what to sacrifice in order for meager incomes to cover costs.
It is very difficult to pay bills and make it to the end of the month with enough food to eat. This situation is compounded when the senior lives alone and is faced with these decisions without a safety net of friends and family to help.
The purpose of GRACE’s Friends & Family Program is to prevent senior isolation and to preserve the dignity of seniors by helping them live independently in their homes for as long as possible. Challenges to independent living include low and/or fixed income, lack of transportation/lack of mobility, and lack of knowledge regarding available resources, funding sources, and other aid.
Without seeking assistance, often isolated seniors may go hungry at the end of each month with draws like rent, utilities, insurance, home maintenance, and other expenses trumping food.
The GRACE Friends & Family Program provides that needed assistance. If the senior is home bound, GRACE volunteers will package and deliver food and hygiene supplies once a month directly to their home.
While visiting on the front step or parlor, the volunteers know to ask the senior about any other needs they may be experiencing, and to keep their eyes open for any other needs that the proud senior may not mention.
For seniors with adequate transportation, GRACE can provide vouchers to the GRACE Pantry. The vouchers are good for food and hygiene supplies at the GRACE Food Pantry.
The GRACE Friends & Family coordinator meets regularly with each senior and advises on budgeting and money management. Together, they devise a monthly budget from salary, retirement income, social security and other income sources to cover
monthly expenses of rent/mortgage, utilities, phone, car payments/insurance, gasoline, medical expenses, food, toiletries, clothing, and other needs.
GRACE also serves as a referral source for the senior for everything from transportation to medication assistance. As the needs of each senior tend to change, every senior receives a valuable packet each month filled with resource contacts, senior-focused publications, and other trusted offerings dedicated to the senior population.
GRACE has some great opportunities for volunteers to help seniors.
Deliver Monthly Commodities
Volunteers deliver food and supplies to seniors once a month. The volunteers meet at the Food Pantry in the morning to pick up kitchen staples, toiletries, small gifts and information packets to share with the seniors. The route from start to finish typically lasts about ninety minutes.
Those unable to commit to monthly deliveries can also sign up to become substitutes if there is a shortage or a special need.
Provide Companionship as a Volunteer Match
Another way to serve Friends & Family is to become a volunteer match. Volunteers are carefully matched with seniors that are compatible with their personality and schedule. Some volunteers opt for weekly calls to check on the senior, companionship visits, and the occasional delivery or errand.
Each volunteer role is unique according to the match, and to the extent the volunteer is available to serve.
GRACE honors and appreciates seniors, and so do the volunteers who get involved in their lives through GRACE! Contact Christine Szymaszek, GRACE Friends & Family Program Coordinator, to answer any questions and see what might be a good service opportunity for you.