Program helps seniors who need a pal

first_imgKiersten Ware What: Volunteer training for ElderFriends. Registration required.When: 5:30 to 8 p.m. May 7 and 17 and June 6.Where: CDM Services, 2409 Broadway.Cost: Free.Info: 360-816-0927 or CDM Services.A program to relieve isolation and loneliness among seniors who live alone will kick off in May in Clark County.ElderFriends Inc., based out of the CDM Services office at 2409 Broadway, matches volunteers with isolated seniors 65 and older for weekly visits.“These are seniors who are living alone and not in an institution,” said Kiersten Ware, the program’s founder. “They’re shut in or frail. The volunteer is paired with them much like a Big Brothers Big Sisters program. It’s just socialization. There are no chores or errands. It’s playing games or sewing together, cooking, maybe going for a walk.”Ware worked with Vancouver’s CDM Services last summer to try to bring the program to Clark County but hadn’t been able to secure money to pay for an executive director to coordinate the program until now.Instead of hiring an executive director, the program qualified for an AmeriCorps VISTA volunteer who will serve as coordinator of the program.AmeriCorps volunteer Paige Costigan was placed in the position April 23. Costigan, who worked as a home care worker before earning a bachelor’s degree in community health from New Mexico State University, will serve as coordinator for at least a year. AmeriCorps VISTA is a national service organization that serves Americans in poverty.Operating costs for the program will be paid forwith grants from the Harvest Foundation ($10,000), Vancouver Rotary Foundation ($3,000), and Northwest Healthcare Inc. ($700), as well as other smaller contributions, Ware said.The program matches people 65 and older who live alone with a volunteer who commits to visit the senior for an hour or two every week for at least a year. Volunteers also are required to participate in a two- to three-hour training and have a background check.There are no income limitations for seniors to participate in the program. The only requirement for eligibility is to be 65 and living alone. Nearly 9 percent of Washington households are occupied by a senior who lives alone, according to the Census Bureau.last_img

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