Volunteering: Giving time, touching hearts
“Volunteers Make the World a Better Place”
The Brookline Council on Aging and the Brookline Senior Center are happy to enlist new volunteers to share their talents and program ideas.
Your contributions enable us to expand service and activities for all elders in Brookline. If you would like to pursue volunteer service, please make an appointment with Patricia, the volunteer coordinator 617. 730. 2743 for an opportunity to learn more about the Center and opportunities where you might best use your time and talent/skills. We are eager to hear new ideas and have a list of volunteers for special events.
– – All volunteer content written by Patricia Burns
MARCH SPOTLIGHTED VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES:
This month’s spotlighted opportunities include: Food Commodity program on the 3rd Wednesday of each month – Russian interpreters in the afternoon and people able to help lift 30-35 lbs. in the morning; assistance for seniors with their SmartPhones on Wednesday afternoons 3-5; as well as audio and video interviewing of seniors after they complete a TRIPPS Transportation Challenge.
If you would like to apply for these or other volunteer opportunities at the Brookline Senior Center, please call Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator @ 617 730 2743 or email her at email@example.com to make an appointment to talk about things you like to do, your skills and opportunities to volunteer at the BSC.
SHOP: “Students Helping Older People”
The S.H.O.P. Program has been a community service program at Brookline High School for many years. It is a win-win volunteer opportunity where students grocery shop for an elder in Brookline and seniors share their actual history and experience. It is a weekly to biweekly commitment that is usually shared with a student partner. It starts with visiting the elder’s home to get a grocery list and money, then shopping, and returning with the groceries.
In addition to getting the groceries for the senior, the most important part of this program is developing meaningful multigenerational relationships. Some students have shopped for the same person throughout high school and consider their elder an important part of their life.
When surveying seniors in the program, we receive overwhelmingly positive feedback about the students. Likewise, when doing follow-up with the students, either during annual orientation or from unsolicited comments, the students are extremely positive about their relationships with ‘their seniors’. One student continued to visit his senior regularly after she transferred to an assisted living facility where meals were provided and she no longer needed shopping!
The Brookline High School has a list of students eager to shop for seniors needing some help. If you or a senior you know would like student shopping help, please call Patricia, the Volunteer Coordinator at 617 730 2743 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
ANNUAL VOLUNTEER SURVEY: Check your pile of unanswered mail! The annual volunteer survey was sent out with some new and interesting questions. We have already received 121 completed surveys (a 25% increase over past years), but would like to hear from you as well! Please take a few minutes to fill it out and mail it or drop it off at the Senior Center in the addressed envelope that was included in the mailing. If you have lost your survey, stop by Patricia’s office and pick up another. Your responses are important, are tabulated and the resulting data are used to support budget requests and for other fundraising efforts.
This core group of volunteers pictured here meets each month to make sure that the monthly Senior News and Events Newsletter is mailed to more than 500 seniors. This core group and other mailing volunteers prepare all Council on Aging mailings, some of which for new gallery exhibits, special events and fundraisers are more than 700 pieces. They also do mailings for the Brookline Town Hall. One of the largest mailings this year for the Brookline Human Resources Department was 3,000 pieces and was finished in 3 hours!
Some mailing volunteers have been a part of this group for more than four years, while others have recently joined. It is a wonderful, multi-culturalsocial group.If you are interested in joining, call Patricia Burns @ 617 730 2743
Agnes Rogers, at 97 years old, is now the oldest very regular volunteer serving the Brookline Senior Center. Her age does not stop her from coming every weekday to help with the lunch program.
Agnes is also the Honorary COA Chair Emeritus having served as the Chair for many years until this September when she handed the position over to Roberta Winitzer. Agnes still is an active participant in the monthly COA meetings.
She has been involved in COA and BSC affairs since before this building was built and has been a vocal advocate during Town budget meetings regarding funding for seniors in Brookline. She has also been the President of the Brookline Housing Authority Tenants’ Association. Agnes has often said, “When I started fighting for the Senior Center, I didn’t realize that I would be fighting for myself someday.”
When asked what she liked best about volunteering, Agnes did not hesitate before saying, “getting out every day, making new friends and experiencing different aspects of friendship”.
QUOTE FROM THE DIRECTOR, RUTHANN DOBEK:
“One of our strengths is recruiting volunteers. We have 368 volunteers of all ages – 12 – 97 performing 462 activities. Many are active in more than one activity; many hold full time jobs; many have volunteered with us for ten years or more; and many volunteer elsewhere. These volunteers, most of whom are seniors themselves, donate the equivalent number of hours of more than 20 full-time staff. Our volunteers are here and in the community every day. We would have to close our doors if we had to go without their thousands of hours of dedicated work.”
Ruthann continues to ask that all of our volunteers add one more important job to their volunteering – being an ambassador for the Brookline Senior Center. She asks that we all be aware of new faces here or in our community – churches, synagogues, neighborhoods or social networks – and welcome and encourage seniors to come to the BSC. Our volunteers know that the secret to longevity is active involvement and physical fitness
QUOTE FROM A VOLUNTEER:
“When I was in the hospital, I couldn’t wait to get out… not to go home, but to be able to come back to the Senior Center and my friends here.”
BROOKLINE SENIOR CENTER VOLUNTEERS IN THE NEWS:
Brookline Senior Center volunteers – especially our efforts at intergenerational volunteers- will be spotlighted sometime in March on BIG, the local TV channel. We will give more specifics as we get them. An article, ‘What Makes Brookline Council On Aging So Extraordinary?’ has been submitted and accepted for the Blue Cross Blue Shield Medex quarterly publication, Healthy Times. We will let you know when it will be published. Patricia also updates the volunteer pages of the Town and BSC websites and contributes to the BCAN Volunteer page monthly. She urges everyone to check these websites (www.brooklineseniorcenter.org/, www.brooklinema.gov/) and http://www.brooklinecan.org/. Brookline Senior Center volunteers were featured in an article in the April, 2016 issue of the fiftyplus advocate entitledVolunteering: A Work of Heart at the Brookline Senior Center. The article can be found on line at www.fiftyplusadvocate.com.
VOLUNTEER & COMMUNITY PARTNER OF 2016:
Ruthann indicated that this award is given to a volunteer who was nominated and exemplified sharing, giving and paying it forward. The 2016 awardwas presented to Muriel Stark. Ruthann outlined some of the many ways that Muriel has volunteered and most importantly her position as BSC ambassador as well as her “we’ll get through it” attitude. In addition to the certificate of award, Muriel was also given a lovely plant and a bowl of chocolates. Ruthann then announced the Community Partner Award that was given to Trader Joe’s this year. She thanked them for their weekly donation of flowers, produce and the festive Hawaiian luau event and encouraged all of us to thank them when we were in the store.
VOLUNTEER & COMMUNITY PARTNER OF 2017:
Invitations to the Volunteer Luncheon and requests for nominations have been mailed. If you are an active volunteer and have not received your invitation, please contact Patricia @ 617 730 2743. All invited volunteers must RSVP by March 27th by calling 617 730 2777.
COLLABORATIVE VOLUNTEER EVENTS & OPPORTUNITIES:
SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) is administered by the Massachusetts Executive Office of Elder Affairs in partnership with Councils on Aging and other aging service access points. SHINE helps people on Medicare and other seniors understand complex insurance options. SHINE volunteer counselors educate and provide unbiased help to choose an insurance program best for the individual. Seniors interested in making an appointment with a BSC SHINE counselor – especially during the open enrollment period – should call 617 730 2777.
SHINE trains counselors in a 2 days/week – 6 week course. Meetings to get support and meet with other counselors occur monthly. Once certified, you will be assigned to work 6 hours per week in a senior center or other public setting. If you are interested in becoming a certified counselor, call Dorene Nemeth, MetroWest Regional SHINE Director: 781 455 7555, ext. 202
MASS COMMISSION FOR THE BLIND:
Help a visually impaired person by reading or shopping with them. No special skills needed. Call Kyle Robidoux, Director of Volunteer Support Services, Mass Commission for the Blind – 617 926 4312.
The Brookline Senior Center is collaborating with the MA Commission for the Blind on a new grant to train vision impaired seniors on new technological equipment that has been installed in the BSC computer lab. Sassy, the new trainer will be available byappointment on Wednesdays from 1-5 and most Thursdays.
BROOKLINE’S EMERGENCY FOOD BANK:
The Brookline Emergency Food Bank needs donations of instant coffee and tea, sugar, oil, flour, spices, pasta, canned tomatoes and sauce, canned soup, beans, vegetables, fruit (low salt and low sugar) dry beans, healthy snacks for kids, granola bars, and fruit cups. They also need toiletries such as: shampoo, conditioner, moisturizer and sunscreen (not covered by SNAP).
Donations may be left in thebin under the table in the reception areaat the Brookline Senior Center.
This Newton-based choral group focuses on performing and supporting the music of women composers. Concerts from November to May take place in Newton and Boston. Cappella Clausura would like to offer warm and welcoming Brookline Senior volunteers free admission to their concerts in exchange for helping to greet patrons, direct audience members to ticket lines, usher and hand out programs. Interested volunteers should contact Anne Kern @ email@example.com or 617 993 0013.
Generations Incorporated is recruiting older adult volunteers to help improve reading skills for Kindergarten through 2nd grade students in classroom settings twice a week at either the Winship School in Brighton or the Lydon School in West Roxbury. To find out more about the program please call 617 423 6633 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to RSVP.
Retirement Engagement Alternatives Program
The REAP program for Brookline senior residents 55 or 60 and above (depending on the program) is designed for people who wish to remain engaged and active in the community while in retirement or partial retirement. The goal of this program is to enhance the retirement experience by linking participants with either part-time paid or volunteer work in the community or at the Brookline Senior Center (BSC) itself.
The BSC partners with several other local organizations to offer fulfilling and interesting opportunities. These include, but are not limited to: BrooklineCAN (BCAN), Senior Community Service Employment Program (SCSEP), Brookline Adult and Community Education, Executive Office of Elder Affairs and Various Brookline Town departments. In addition, opportunities exist for Tax Work-Off, and limited grant funded employment at the BSC for income qualified Brookline residents.
The REAP program provides the following free services: individual, confidential and free consultation around skills and interests, on-going skills based workshops and training for employment seekers, employer-employee matching service, consultation and matching for participants seeking meaningful volunteer opportunities and on-going opportunities to network and explore avenues and options for self-fulfillment in the retirement years.
To enroll or for more information, call 617 730 2767 or email Deidre at email@example.com
Brookline seniors – Boomers & Beyond – are eligible to receive free individual help with resumes, cover letters and LinkedIn profiles as well as tips on phone, skype, in-person and mock interviews. To schedule an appointment, call Patricia at 617 730 2743 or email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
MARCH REAP EVENT
NETWORKING/JOB SEARCH SUPPORT GROUP
This group will meet from 2-3:30 on March 28th. Please join us to get support and resources and share what has worked for you.
Registration is required. Contact Patricia Burns who will facilitate the group at 617 730 2743 or email@example.com
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The Brookline Council on Aging’s (COA) Senior Center is indisputably one of the most active centers in Massachusetts.The Brookline COA is a Town agency responsiblefor planning, coordinating and providing comprehensive services for Brookline area residents age 60 and over.We work with other Town agencies and community service providers to enhance the quality of life for our elders.The Brookline Senior Center (BSC) is a gathering place dedicated to enriching the aging experience by providing a diverse environment with a wide range of opportunities, programs and services (the majority of which are provided by volunteers) in the areas of health, learning, art, socialization, nutrition, and recreation.In addition, and perhaps more importantly, the Brookline COA provides Brookline area seniors a strong and inviting communityin which to meet new friends, socialize, volunteer and stay active.
Quote from Ruthann Dobek, Director: “Our goal is to help seniors maintain their independence and continue to be or become active members of their community.We believe wholeheartedly in enhancing growth, dignity and a sense of belonging while encouraging individual contributions and the sharing of diverse life experiences.The Senior Center welcomes all who walk through our doors, regardless of age, income, disability, ethnic, religious or sexual orientation.
One of our strengths is recruiting volunteers. We have >343 volunteers of all ages – 12 – 96 performing 462 activities.Many are active in more than one activity; many have volunteered with us for ten years or more. These volunteers, most of whom are seniors themselves, donate the equivalent number of hours of more than 20 full-time staff. Without our volunteers who execute the programs, the BSC could not provide the number and variety of programs and activities that we offer to seniors”
Assistance Programs: Social workers and volunteers provide help with accessing Fuel Assistance, SNAP, AARP Tax Preparation and Information and Referral. They also provide legal assistance (BLAB), assistance with identifying Medicare supplement options (SHINE), Job Search Support with individual appointments and workshops (REAP),Home and Escort Linkage Program (HELP), Equipment Loan Program (ELF), Real Estate Tax Workoff Program (TAP), Discount Taxi Coupon Program (BETS), the Elder Resource Guide, and the Caregivers’ Respite Program.
Exercise and Fitness: Our on-site fully equipped, supervised Fitness Center provides– Mat & Chair Yoga, Fexibility, Resistance Training & Balance and Aging Backwards as well as individual sessions. In addition, Tuesday Dance Party, Zumba Gold, Tai Chi, Solemates Walking Club, Ping Pong, Strength Training for Seniors, Senior Stretch, Exercise for Health &Rejuvenation and Arthritis Exercise provide exercise/fitness options for every taste and ability.
Health: Programs to support seniors’ health at the Brookline COA include: Podiatry Clinic, Memory Café, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Hearing screenings, as well as Reiki and Acupuncture. Health support includes: Ask a Geriatrician, Ask a Nurse, Low Vision Group and a Health Coach. Talks on Diabetes, Blood Pressure, Aphasia and Fall Prevention are also offered.
Food and Nutrition: Programs to assure that no Brookline area senior goes to bed hungry include our weekly Tuesday Food Pantry with donations from Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods and local bakeries, Monday-Friday hot and cold lunches provided by Springwell, the monthly Greater Boston Food Bank Federal Food Commodity program providing shelf stable food to 72 low income seniors and the SHOP Program where Brookline High School students shop for seniors as part of their community service requirement.
Arts & Crafts: Programs include: Quilting, Beading, Knitting & Crocheting, Flower Arranging, Basic Drawing, Water Color, Still Life Workshop, Art for Pleasure, exhibits in the Brookline Senior Center Gallery supporting local artists and our Annual Holiday Craft Fair.
Entertainment: Tuesday Movies, Easy Travel, Theatre Club, Senior Chorus, Ukulele Group, Coolidge Corner Community Chorus, Swing Band, Chess, Mah Jong (US & Chinese), Scrabble, Bridge, Canasta and Bingo as well as the Let’s Go Out To Lunch Bunch and the LGBT Out 2 Lunch Bunch, concerts and theater productions and many other special events such as ‘Genius of George Gershwin’ and ‘Dance Caliente’.
Learning: ESL Conversation, Spanish Immersion, French Conversation, Lyudmilla’s Group, Current Events Discussion, Yuri’s Group, One-On-One Computer and Open Computer Lab, A Taste of Poetry, the Book Discussion Group, Living Our Values and Telling Our Story.
Support: Various Support Groups provided by social workers and volunteers throughout the year include: Bereavement Support, Job Search Support, Depression Support, Grandparent Alienation Support, Retired Men’s Club, Alzheimer’s Caregiver Support, and the Low Vision Support groups.