Apr 21

Shining a Spotlight on the Difference Volunteers Make

image of Spotlight focused on the words Springwell Volunteers for Volunteer Appreciation on J

As a nonprofit, Springwell depends on volunteers as one of our most valuable resources to support delivery of our programs. We are fortunate to have eight volunteer programs serving our communities: Friendly Visitors, Shopping Assistants, Medical Escorts, Office Support workers, Home Delivered Meals Drivers, Congregate Dining Assistants, Money Managers and Ombudsmen. While we always appreciate our volunteers, their gift of time and skills in the past year has been remarkable.

Springwell’s Friendly Visitor volunteers provide meaningful one-on-one social interaction weekly either in person or on the phone to help reduce loneliness. In the past year, 41 volunteers matched with older adults provided 1494 hours of companionship and conversation. One older adult notes “I love spending time with Jill, she doesn’t just make my day better, she makes my life better.”

Medical Escorts help older adults get to medical appointments. Transportation is one of the biggest needs of older adults who can’t drive, can’t take public transportation, and don’t have nearby family or friends to help. It is also one of the most difficult volunteer roles to fill because of the uncertainty of the time commitment. Springwell especially seeks medical escorts who are comfortable driving to appointments in Boston. To simplify scheduling for volunteers, needed rides are posted online so volunteers can choose to drive when they are available.

Three volunteer programs support nutrition needs of older adults and reminds them that people care about them. Shopping assistants facilitate access to food and medications for older adults with limited mobility, who no longer drive and/or struggle with lifting heavy grocery bags. Home delivered meal volunteers deliver meals Monday through Friday, providing not only a nutritious meal, but also a brief friendly conversation and well-being check. As one of Springwell’s largest programs, 102 volunteers worked 1832 shifts for a total of 5334 hours delivering meals in the past year. Congregate Dining volunteers help distribute meals and create a welcoming environment at community dining sites.

Money Managers provide peace of mind and help older adults maintain their independence by paying bills, balancing check registers and much more. Here is what one older adult says about working with a Money Manager Volunteer, “He’s been a great help. He’s wonderful… I feel more secure about my money.”  In the past year, money management volunteers met with 31 clients monthly providing 368 hours of assistance.

Ombudsman are trained and certified to act as advocates for nursing and rest home residents. In the past year, ombudsmen volunteers who completed a three-day training with the state provided over 598 hours of listening and advocating on behalf of residents of 20 long-term care facilities. One volunteer shares “I like being an ombudsman. I like helping get issues they have resolved to their satisfaction. I like getting their smiles.”

Sometimes it is hard to know who gets more out of the relationship between an older adult and a volunteer. They both appreciate the value being added to their lives. Springwell volunteers range in age from 19-90. We always have a need for more volunteers. If you are interested in volunteering or you would like to refer someone who may benefit from the help of a volunteer, please contact us at 617-926-4100 or volunteer@springwell.com.