September 20 to 24th
PROVO, UT (September 20, 2010) - - In Utah County and across the nation, adults 55 and over volunteer with the Senior Corps to mentor and tutor children, help frail seniors stay independent, and give seniors the opportunity to be involved in their community. In Utah County, the Senior Services Program has over 120 volunteers working in the community.
To honor these seniors, September 20 to 24th is the first annual Senior Corps Week. "We want to show how these wonderful individuals contribute to their friends and neighbors," said Cheri Christensen, Utah County Foster Grandparent Program coordinator. "We will join with other programs around the country in a national week of recognition, and show how our seniors are giving back."
Utah County Senior Services is divided into two programs, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions. Both utilize seniors in the county to assist in their programs.
"Foster Grandparents provide mentoring, love, assistance and support to at-risk youth in local schools, day-cares, development centers, and residential treatment centers," said Cheri Christensen. "Our grandparents work under the supervision of trained professional staff in these facilities to provide love and support – and who is better to give that love than a grandparent?"
Marianne Christensen, Senior Companions program coordinator, said "Senior Companions are healthy older adults who help other adults live independently. They go into a frail or elderly individual's home and help them with such things as transportation or errands to the bank or grocery store for them. They give companionship and additional support to help keep individuals in their homes and independent."
Seniors that volunteer are given initial training as well as four hours of in-service training every month. These regular meetings help them address challenges or problems that they face while serving. "They are somewhat limited in what they can do in a school or a home, but these meetings give us a chance to talk through problems and brainstorm solutions together," said Marianne Christensen.
"Besides the volunteer service they provide, our seniors also receive a boost in knowing they are doing something to help in the community. It helps their own independence and self-esteem to know they are serving a useful purpose," said Marianne Christensen.
The Senior Services Program receives funding for its efforts through various state and federal grants, as well as support from Utah County. They are a member of the National Senior Corps, a division of the USA Freedom Corps and the Corporation for National and Community Service. Senior Services have 70 to a 125 volunteers at any given time. To learn more about their programs and services, visit http://www.utahcountyonline.org/Dept2/Health/SeniorServices/index.asp or call 801-851-7784.