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Seniors recognized for service in our community

PROVO, Utah (May 7, 2011) -- The Senior Corps -- Senior Companions, Foster Grandparents and Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) -- have been serving communities in the U.S. for over 40 years, and in Utah for 47 years. This week, older Americans are being honored for their efforts during National Senior Corp Week.

"Older Americans and Utahns in particular offer a lifetime of skills and experiences," said Cheri Christensen Tuckett, Utah County Foster Grandparent coordinator. "Their service not only provides a valuable asset in our community, it helps the volunteers keep active, healthy, and engaged."

Banner/flags recognizing National Senior Corp Week
A banner and flags were posted outside the Health and Justice Building, recognizing National Senior Corp Week

Tuckett says there are nearly 337,000 older adults serving across the country. "In Utah County, Senior Companion volunteers served more than 38,534 hours last year. Foster Grandparents served more than 64,500 and RSVP volunteers almost 107,500 hours."

The Foster Grandparents program Provides older Americans the opportunity to put their life experiences to work for local communities. Foster Grandparents serve as mentors, tutors, and care givers for at-risk children and youth with special needs through a variety of community organizations, including schools, hospitals, drug treatment facilities, correctional institutions, Head Start and day-care centers.

Foster Grandparents help in schools
Foster Grandparent Velva Merrell helps a student in local schools.

Senior Companion Program similarly provides older Americans with the opportunity to apply their life experiences to meeting community needs. Senior Companions serve one-on-one with the frail elderly and other homebound persons who have difficulty completing everyday tasks. They assist with grocery shopping, bill paying, and transportation to medical appointments and they alert doctors, and family members to potential problems. Senior Companions also provide short periods of relief to primary care-givers.

Senior Companions help other seniors with a variety of activities
Senior Companions help other seniors with errands, tasks around the home, and a variety of other activities.

RSVP provides service through a variety of organizations, agencies, and institutions that are known as volunteer stations. These include courts, schools, libraries, day care centers, hospitals, nursing homes, quilting, information booths, and many more.

Senior Services in action
Deann Simons, a Senior Companion volunteer, helps Bee do her shopping

"Nationwide, last year Senior Corp volunteers provided more than 96 million hours of service worth nearly $2 billion, helping improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, strengthen our educational system, protect our environment, provide independent living services, contribute to our public safety, and help improve our quality of life," said Marianne Christensen, Utah County Senior Companion coordinator. "We want to recognize all of them, and thank them for their dedication."

"We are always looking for individuals who want to help," said Christensen. She explained each program has different requirements, but that they work hard to match willing seniors with the appropriate program. "For instance, Senior Companions need to be able to drive, and be able to commit to 15 to 40 hours per week. Foster Grandparents often work with schools within walking distance of their homes. And RSVP volunteers can volunteer as little as an hour a month."

Seniors interested in volunteering are encouraged to contact Senior Services at the Utah County Health Department (801-851-7784) or RSVP at Mountainlands Association of Governments (801-229-3810).

Senior Companions help other seniors with a variety of activities

The Utah County Health Department is committed to promoting the health of our community, preventing avoidable disease and injury by monitoring the health of our community, and assuring conditions in which people can be healthy. For information on UCHD programs or services, please visit www.UtahCountyHealth.org or call 801-851-7000. You can also now follow the UCHD on at www.twitter.com/uchd or www. FaceBook.com/uchealth.


Deann Simons, a Senior Companion volunteer, helps Bee do her shopping

Banner/flags recognizing National Senior Corp Week

Senior Companions help other seniors with a variety of activities.

Lynn Gates help Lena with some household tasks.

Foster Grandparent Velve Merrell helps students in school