GRAND JUNCTION, Colo.-
For more than two decades, local volunteers have served our communities through two Senior Corps programs at St. Mary's Hospital: the Senior Companion and Foster Grandparent programs. This week, the volunteers will be recognized during National Senior Corps Week.
"Senior companions and foster grandparents are an important part of this community,” said Tamara Vliek with the Senior Companion Program. “We work with seniors and children, and we help bridge that generational gap."
Between both programs, over 100 volunteers provided nearly 90,000 hours of services last year alone, and that number keeps growing.
Volunteers give care to the elderly and make it possible for senior citizens to remain in their own homes by providing transportation and friendship.
"There are people like me who are alone in the world and you have to have somebody,” said Theresa Beri, Senior Companion client.
While the Senior Companion Program helps the elderly, the Foster Grandparent Program allows the seniors to provide care. Senior volunteers help at-risk children. Officials say this gives them a sense of worth.
"By interacting with the children, reading to the children and giving them love and affection, they really help this community tremendously,” said Lora Rohlman of the Foster Grandparent Program.
However, both programs share one important trait. They establish strong bonds between generations.
"I couldn't live without the program. It's my salvation,” said Beri. "You have to have companionship. If you don't have that, you're nothing. There’s nothing worthwhile in the world. Money doesn't mean a thing. You have to have companionship."
If you're interested in volunteering for either one of the programs, you must be at least 55 years old and donate at least 15 hours of your time each week.
The two programs will host a combined open house Thursday, May 10 at 12:30 p.m. at 2232 N. Seventh St. in Grand Junction. For more information, click here.