The Doctors Medical Center Foundation is looking to match volunteers with homebound seniors in the community.
A transit needs study conducted in 2009 uncovered 5,800 people residing in Stanislaus County who were homebound because of a disability or other obstacle, preventing the use of public transportation. Thomas Truax, executive director of DMC Foundation, was part of a committee enlisted to address this issue. It took a couple years of strategic planning, but Truax found the solution in 2010 when he applied for a federal Senior Corps grant which matches seniors with trained volunteers who offer home visits, transportation and one-on-one peer counseling.
Reimbursements for gas mileage are available through this program for those who qualify. Transportation services can include driving a participant to church, a meeting or social event, even to the grocery store. Peer counseling and friendly visits are just that — spending time with someone who may be lonely or need a friendly ear. The program encourages participants to visit one to four times each month.
“We see this as a great opportunity for seniors to get involved in the community, helping other seniors and addressing the transportation issues we know exist,” stated Truax. “This program is just getting started, but we think it will make a huge impact on the lives of those who participate. It really is a win-win all around. Since the program’s inception at the beginning of the year, we have provided over 500 trips (3,500 miles). Our wonderful volunteers have racked up a remarkable 400 hours.”
Volunteers need to be over 55 to qualify for the RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program). Currently, DMC Foundation has roughly 45 volunteers enrolled in the service program, with a goal of 60 by the end of September. Those who are interested in volunteering or being served by a volunteer can call program director, Christina McClelland at 527-3412. People with disabilities are encouraged to apply.
For more information, call DMC Foundation at 527-3412 or look up the RSVP program on the website: dmcf.org. Applications can be downloaded.