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Senior companions honored for their work

By Melanie Ruberti

Melanie.Ruberti@lagrangenews.com

 

Senior companions honored for their work

Local health department recognizes volunteers during Christmas celebration

 

LaGRANGE – Some local volunteers lifted their voices in song, danced, received gifts and prizes plus enjoyed a delicious lunch and each other’s company at Del’Avant on Wednesday.

 

The group was honored during an annual Christmas recognition luncheon for their service in the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs in LaGrange. Both non-profit organizations fall under the Senior Corp program sponsored by the Troup County Health Department.

 

“We can’t pay them, but we can say, ‘thank you,'” said Pat Robinson, Senior Corps director.

 

Among the criteria to be a part of either program: volunteers must be over the age of 55 years old, Robinson added.

 

Foster Grandparents assist at-risk children by mentoring them, helping with homework or even just listening to kids and giving them a hug.

 

“We don’t know what type of environment the children come from,” explained Robinson. “We want to be a part of the learning process … teachers can’t always stop and give one-on-one attention all the time. But a foster grandparent can help them learn … use flash cards, help them learn so they move ahead and don’t feel isolated.”

 

Senior Companions allows folks to help men and women over the age 60 maintain their independence inside their home, provide companionship and respite care for family members.

 

“The volunteers helps seniors remember to take their medications,” Robinson explained. “They (volunteers) might come in on a daily basis, take them shopping or just sit across a table from them and talk.”

 

Volunteer Mary Foster has two senior companions: another woman named Mary and Anne.

 

Foster first met Anne in May.

 

“There was something about the first time we met … we just clicked,” Foster explained with a smile. “She (Anne) keeps me going too! She got me into the Senior Active Center .. we exercise, use the computer … I take her shopping, grocery shopping and to see her friends. Anne is very special to me.”

 

Foster visits Anne twice a week on Monday and Wednesday. Sometimes the pair go shopping to places such as Meryl Norman; other times the duo will sit outside on Anne’s patio and watch the hummingbirds buzz around the feeders..

 

“We’re like a team.” said Foster. “She (Anne) keeps me motivated … Whenever I leave her on Wednesday she (Anne) always gives me a hug goodbye.”

 

Brigid Smith knows how valuable Foster’s companionship is to Anne’s wellbeing. Anne is Smith’s 91-year-old mother.

 

“It is so comforting to know that she (Anne) has company … You don’t know how much it means to know someone is there with her, ” Smith stated. “She’s getting out and about. Mary has really been a blessing in my mom’s life and in my family’s life.”

 

Smith was at the luncheon on Tuesday to say thank you to Foster and show her support for all the volunteers with the Senior Corps.

 

Currently, there are a total of 65 volunteers for both programs, stated Robinson.

 

The Senior Corp receives grant money from the federal government, city of LaGrange and the United Way of West Georgia. Those funds allow the organization to at least pay their volunteers a gas stipend to drive their senior companion to the grocery store, doctor’s visits and more.

 

Anyone wanting more information about the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs or would like to volunteer, contact the Senior Corp organization at 706-298-3664 or visit www.seniorcorp.gov.

 

Melanie Ruberti is a reporter with LaGrange Daily News. She can be reached at 706-884-7311, ext. 2156.