The Institute of Gerontology of the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) honored its senior volunteers, thanking them for another year of service for the Senior Companion and the Respite Aide programs, where seniors help seniors through volunteerism. The 34th Annual Senior Volunteers Recognition Day Luncheon was held May 21, 2014, at Vermont Avenue Baptist Church in Northwest Washington.
The Senior Companion/Respite Aide programs help to preserve the independence of residents of the District of Columbia, supporting low income and disable older persons 55 years and older with high quality and compassionate volunteer service. These programs improve the lives of seniors who are in need of assistants in order to maintain independent living in their homes and communities.
“You all are the testament,” stated John Thompson, Executive Director, D.C. Office of Aging. “You are active and physically engaged.” The DC Office on Aging develops and carries out a comprehensive and coordinated system of health, education, employment, and social services for the District's elderly population.
At the luncheon, volunteers were honored for five years of service and upward. The volunteer with the most served years, Erma Long, has been with Respite Aide for 20 years. The oldest recognized volunteer was Lena Acty, 89 years young. Program volunteers work up to 20 hours per week, five days a week.
“You may be retired, but that doesn’t mean you have nothing to do,” UDC interim President Dr. James Lyons addressed the volunteers in his keynote. “You’re doing good work--important work,” he said, after speaking about his mother who was also a senior companion.
Senior Companions serve frail, older adults with disabilities and those with terminal illnesses. They assist senior clients in essential ways, including offering companionship to isolated older adults, assisting with chores and adding richness to their clients’ lives. The Respite Aide program provides in-home assistance to seniors living alone and also provides support to the care-giving families. This service helps the individual and/or family deal with the challenges of independent living in older adulthood.
“Volunteering also helps the person who is doing the volunteering,” explained Marian Williams, a volunteer with the Institute of Gerontology.
“Through your efforts, seniors have been given the opportunity to fully enjoy their golden years in a caring and supportive atmosphere,” said Dr. Sabine O’Hara, Dean of the College of Agriculture, Urban Sustainability and Environmental Sciences (CAUSES) of the University of the District of Columbia.
The Institute of Gerontology is part of the Center for Nutrition, Diet and Health, a landgrant center of CAUSES. Visit www.udc.edu/causes for more information or contact Dr. Elgloria Harrison at (202) 274-6366 or firstname.lastname@example.org.