National Volunteer Week is April 18-24: Volunteers are a Gift to Our Community
National Volunteer Week is April 18-24 this year. And we want to thank all the individuals who give their time, talent, and resources to make an amazing difference to our Elder Network community. The Points of Light web site provides many interesting statistics on the value of volunteers, one statistic that stands out is $482 million dollars identified as the annual dollar value of volunteer hours. How inspiring is that?
Our Elder Network volunteers help us and our elders in various ways. Let’s start with a special thanks to the volunteers who provide direct support and services to our elders. These volunteers provide vital services including:
- Driving elders to medical appointments and other essential locations
- Providing social interaction through our Friendly Visiting Program
- Giving respite support to caregivers
Another critical group of individuals is the Elder Network’s board members! They guide us and keep our organization vibrant and forward-thinking. The individuals that help with fundraising and work to grow awareness of our services are crucial to our organization. Our volunteer office staff performs all the essential tasks that help us stay organized and on top of things, they also provide positive and helpful experiences to our callers and visitors.
Whatever volunteer role you play at Elder Network you are invaluable to us!
Charlotte Rupprecht deserves special recognition
Charlotte (who recently retired from volunteering) has been a Friendly Visitor volunteer for 25 years at Elder Network in the Winona area. She originally volunteered with Family Service of Winona, working in the Older Adult Supportive Services (OASS) program and doing social visits to clients. Charlotte’s parents were aging, causing her to think the OASS program would help her better understand the challenges her parents might face. Over the years, OASS joined forces with Elder Network in Rochester. Charlotte remembers taking 12 required classes through Elder Network’s Peer Support volunteer training program before she could see her first client on January 5, 1995.
Over the course of 25 years, she provided Peer Support and Friendly Visitor services to many clients. Charlotte shared that one of her clients told her that, “She was the only person that had ever given her a hug”. Through the years, she took additional training in order to provide volunteer respite for caregivers. Charlotte is glad that she was able to visit with clients before Covid-19. She, with her big heart, wants everyone to know many other volunteers served through the Friendly Visitor, Peer Support, and Caregiver Respite programs for many, many years too.
Creating a chain of volunteerism
In a recent discussion with Tom, an Elder Network volunteer driver, we discovered he became a volunteer driver partly because his dad was a volunteer driver in Olmsted County. Passing down this volunteerism and a community service mentality is such a gift to Elder Network and the community at large. Kathy Scheid stated, “As the new Executive Director to Elder Network, I was thrilled to hear this story because Tom’s dad had driven for a program I worked with in another job. I knew his dad quite well. Now, I was meeting his son and discovering this beautiful legacy of volunteering.”
Sometimes bringing joy and displaying caring is done in the simplest of ways. One of our Friendly Visitor volunteers, Jerry Davidson, was no longer able to do in- person visits with his elder due to COVID-19. Jerry decided to continue to be of service by filling the elder’s bird feeder on a regular basis and having a brief window visit. Pretty soon he was improving the feeder, adding a suet feeder, and bringing corn cobs for the squirrels. Jerry said, “I love to feed the birds and squirrels at home. It’s a natural thing for me. It gives her another thing to look at and enjoy.”
Giving our youth a mindset of volunteerism is so important for the future of our community and the self-worth of our youth. Actually, volunteering gives as much to the volunteer as they give to their clients.
Meredith Predum at 24 years old is a new volunteer driver for Elder Network. She shared, “Being a volunteer driver with Elder Network has shown me how imperative transportation is to [a person’s] general health and quality of life. This program has given me a glimpse at how many elders have truly lost much of their independence by losing the ability to drive. I have been blown away at the gratitude I have been shown from each person I’ve driven. I can see the personal impact firsthand that Elder Network is making in the lives of people. This is such a practical way of helping the aging population in our community and I am happy to be part of this important organization.”
How you help
Generally people think of volunteering as helping others, but studies show that volunteering has a positive impact on the volunteer. Not only do they experience a greater sense of well-being and value to their community, volunteering is good for their own health. One report goes as far as stating that volunteers have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression, and less incidence of heart disease.
Elder Network would love to welcome anyone at any age to share their time and talents with us and the elder’s we serve. Please, consider joining us. Our current needs include:
- Driving elders to medical appointments and other locations
- Teaching people how to use an iPad for telehealth, online grocery shopping, and social connection with friends and family
- Helping with fundraising events, sponsorship asks, and donations of goods and services
Our Volunteers Make the World a Better Place
Elder Network Friendly Visitor volunteers visit to provide a listening ear, support and encouragement. Volunteer drivers provide transportation for seniors to their important medical and mental wellness appointments. For those aged 55+ facing challenges in their lives, such as isolation, depression, anxiety, addictions, retirement, grief, major health changes, etc. these Volunteer Visitors make the difference between mental and physical wellness or the decline thereof.
Respite Volunteers provide a break for the caregiver to do some of the out-of-home tasks that need to be done. These volunteers provide peace of mind for the caregiver that their loved one is taken care of while they are away.
As a local non-profit, we rely on trained volunteers for a large portion of our services. Since 2011, volunteers have given over 5,000 rides to needed health-related appointments and visitors have made over 20,000 hours of visits. These are 2 examples of the unmet needs of seniors indicated in the Gaps Analysis reports in all three counties we serve. Not all seniors are in need of services, but those who do will need to be supported. Elder Network volunteers are passionate about being there for them.
Thank you for helping out. No one should have no one.
In addition to our resonse to COVID-19, we have a number of on-going needs in our existing programs.
If you are interested in volunteering, please complete these forms and contact the associated staff member for the position. They will assist you with the process from that point. If you would like to check-in via phone with office staff for general questions, please call: 507-285-5272.
AmeriCorps Volunteer at Elder Network
Elder Network has been selected as a site to host an AmeriCorps member. This opportunity will be temporary, during this summer, but it does offer a stipend and healthcare coverage! If you do not have 35 hours a week of your own time to dedicate, feel free to refer a friend or family member. For more information, or to apply, review this link: https://serveminnesota.org/emergency-response/emergency-response-member/
Tasks and duties of this position include:
- Assisting with calls to clients
- Referring clients to resources
- Assisting with event planning
- Conducting community outreach, surveying, and engagement with community partners
- Assisting with volunteer needs for programs (i.e. Transportation, Technology Assistance, etc.)
- Coordinating care package distribution and delivery
- Helping to update social media, the website, and other forms of digital outreach
- Providing assistance with development of forms, brochures, flyers, etc.
- Developing media content and disseminating information
- Other duties in support of increased demand for services
Please apply directly to the link above, as this position is hired through AmeriCorps and not through Elder Network. Volunteers applying through that link can select, "Elder Network" in Rochester, MN. This position would serve Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona counties. Please call Becca for more questions 507-285-5272.
Technology Assistance Program Volunteers
The Elder Network has developed a grant-funded pilot project that has supported the purchase of tablets for volunteers to use with clients to provide face-to-face visiting without going into the homes. Volunteers can choose to either volunteer in-person, over the phone, or via video conferencing. This virtual face-to-face contact is important to provide needed socialization and to help alleviate isolation for our elders who experience isolation due to COVID-19.
Elder Network is looking for volunteers who are interested in teaching seniors how to use tablets and the phone to converse on Zoom and other digital platforms. Elder Network is also looking for volunteers to assist individuals with questions and guidance on using tablet applications to improve their communication with friends and family, connect with medical providers, use email to communicate with others, order groceries online, and access other important resources that they have been going without through their time of quarantine.
The Elder Network is interested in partnering with tech-savvy volunteers who could assist with providing technical education for clients for 1-2 hours per week, according to the schedule of the volunteer. This program begins on February 1st, and staff and volunteers are currently being recruited to be trained in, in preparation for this start date. Please call Becca for interest in volunteering with this program: 507-251-0867.
If you enjoy developing social network contacts, have experience in marketing, and enjoy spending time with event planning, you might be an excellent candidate for assisting with fundraising at Elder Network. We work with volunteers to solicit in-kind donations for our annual gala, and we are always looking for organized individuals to assist with the annual, silent auction. We seek people who enjoy socializing and connecting people to our agency, as well as those interested in working behind the scenes to assist with our annual gala. You can help us support our mission of providing excellent programming at affordable rates, by helping us to raise money for the agency’s many programs. This need could be served either in-person or virtually. Background clearance needed. Please reach out to Kathy Scheid with interest in volunteering for this important need. Email her at: email@example.com or call her at 507-285-5272.
Volunteer Receptionist (Computer or Non-Computer Related Work)
Elder Network is recruiting 1-3 volunteers to support our daily receptionist needs. We offer a friendly and supportive staff, and meaningful tasks to support our work with clients and caregivers, in a pleasant environment. Days and hours are flexible to the volunteer’s availability but a consistent schedule is desirable. Under the supervision of the Executive Director of Elder Network, the Volunteer Receptionist is responsible for these office tasks.
- Answering phones and directing the call to the appropriate staff person.
- Greet and assist walk-in inquiries and directing them to the appropriate staff person.
- Assist with preparation and assembly of materials for various mailings, brochures, training sessions and newsletter production
- Maintain calendar for front desk on a weekly basis for all staff calendar
- Maintain records in an orderly manner
Knowledge, Abilities and Skills Required
- Communicate via the phone in a professional manner
- Record clear and complete phone messages
- Record clear and complete information about referrals
- Communicate the Elder Network mission and activities
- Demonstrate courtesy and tact in dealing with the public, co-workers, volunteers, Board members, and other professionals in the community
- Maintain records in an orderly manner
- Communicate clearly to clients, volunteers, co-workers, and visitors to the office
- Willingness and ability to learn new skills, including computer skills and use of various office machines
Helpful Skills (not required)
- Proficient in Microsoft Office-Word, Excel;
Working Schedule: Flexible; Office hours are M – Th, 9am – 3pm; Fri 9am-1pm
Contact: Kathy Scheid, Executive Director; 507-285-5272
Male Respite Care Volunteers
This position would support a caregiver to be able to complete some daily living duties such as shopping, cleaning, personal appointments or just an opportunity to rest themselves. These companions help the care receiver be comfortable with the caregiver gone or otherwise engaged through active conversation, playing games, making a favorite treat or even going for a ride. The time commitment for volunteers is 2-5 hours on a weekly basis, though interested volunteers can work out arrangements according to their schedule to accommodate the needs of clients on an independent basis.
At the moment we have care receivers and their caregivers that would like to be matched with a male respite companion. Please call Holly at 507-285-5272. Or, for Winona areas call Barb at 507-452-0580. For Wabasha areas, call Bonnie at 651-564-0351.
Friendly Visiting Volunteers
Elder Network also provides visitors in a variety of areas in greater Rochester, to clients interested in having socialization with another individual for 1-2 hours per week. Currently, these services are being provided in-person and over the phone. The responsibilities for a Friendly Visitor are mainly social interaction and engagement. Many elders are lonely, and their support network may be gone during the day. Perhaps they have outlived their friends, and/or their family are not close by. These visits allow volunteers to engage in meaningful conversation with clients in order to boost their mental health and general health outcomes through active, social engagement. Some clients enjoy playing cards or other games, some enjoy going for walks, while others enjoy sitting down for conversation.
Men and women are needed for this volunteer position. Please call Kathy at 507-285-5272 for Olmsted County, Barb at 507-452-0580 for Winona County, and Bonnie at 651-565-3237 for Wabasha County.
Transportation Driver Volunteers
Elder Network has openings for volunteers willing to take seniors to their crucial medical appointments, as well as other essential, non-medical needs in the community. This service is currently only available in Olmsted County. This is particularly important in the winter as other transportation options are reduced, and during COVID-19, as many clients prefer to work with an agency they know and trust to provide safe rides. Volunteers will undergo a background check, and clean driving records are considered essential in supporting the transportation needs of our seniors.
Please call Becca at 507-285-5272.
Donate In-Kind Items to Our Upcoming Silent Auction
Elder Network will be hosting their Annual Fall Gala on September 25th, 2021. We hold this event to support our affordable programs for the Olmsted, Wabasha, and Winona Counties, and we always include a silent auction. In preparation for that silent auction, we are seeking individual and business donations of new and handmade items, as well as services to be donated by your business. We are collecting these items through September 10th, 2021. All inquiries related to these services can be forwarded to Becca at firstname.lastname@example.org or to Kathy at email@example.com. You can also call the office: 507-285-5272. All donors will receive a tax-deductible receipt for their contribution.
We're always looking for volunteers. If one of the positions listed above isn't quite what you're looking for, that's ok! Fill out the volunteer form, and reach out to us through our general information email address firstname.lastname@example.org and we'll match you with the right volunteer opportunity.