Program links volunteers with agencies in need in Sewickley Valley, region
Finding enough volunteers to help with the programs and services offered to older adults in Allegheny County always is a struggle, said Nancy Jones, a manager for the north boroughs office of North Hills Community Outreach.
That's where the Open Your Heart to a Senior program comes in.
Jones, also a project coordinator for the program run through the outreach's Bellevue office, said Open Your Heart has recruited several hundred volunteers for such programs since it debuted in 2009, including Faith in Action based at Sewickley Valley YMCA.
She said volunteers and seniors who need help are found by placing advertisements in publications, sending information to churches, mailing out newsletters, handing out information at senior health fairs and connecting with other agencies that often make referrals.
Initiated and funded by the United Way of Allegheny County, the program is run in cooperation with North Hills Community Outreach and Family Services of Western Pennsylvania. The outreach also runs a Faith in Action program, and Family Services has a similar Interfaith Volunteer Caregivers program.
There is a need for volunteer help in every community in Allegheny County, said the program's website, www.openyourhearttoasenior.org.
Last year, 378 volunteers served more than 1,350 people who receive care throughout Allegheny County. Volunteers contributed about 12,500 hours on behalf of the region's vulnerable seniors throughout 2011.
“I think Open Your Heart to a Senior is a wonderful campaign to recruit volunteer interest,” said Heather Ochman, Y Faith in Action director.
“Our collaboration with the group is very valuable. I use it mostly as a tool to help folks make a connection between what Faith in Action is as a ‘volunteer opportunity,' and what it does to make an impact on our community. Occasionally, we benefit from a referral for a volunteer in our area who has contacted the Open Your Heart to a Senior hotline.”
Ochman said the local Faith in Action has about 100 volunteers and 500 people who receive care.
Volunteers, who first meet with Ochman for a training session, provide rides to doctors' appointments and the grocery store; stop by for a friendly visit; or can do light chores, rake leaves or shovel snow.
Ochman said the program helps seniors maintain their independence and quality of life while building caring relationships.
She said even two hours one day a month can make a difference.
Tracy Hurley, 70, of Oakdale, has been a Faith in Action volunteer for a year and a half and said she loves the flexibility.
Emails are sent out to volunteers telling when seniors need rides or help, and volunteers then are able to choose a time that suits their schedules.
Hurley, who learned about the program at the Y, where she is a member, volunteers about once a week.
Volunteering has given her a way to get to know people in the community where her daughter, Kathy Holland, and her grandchildren live. She and her family are new to the area.
Holland's neighbor, Nancy Hutchinson, told Holland about the program. Holland then got involved for awhile, and recruited her mother.
Hurley said she loves the program, because when she gives rides to seniors, many times they tell her about themselves.
“Afterward, I ponder their lives, and I admire everyone I meet. How they overcome their limitations and all they have to go through (and it's different for everyone) is amazing. They are a total inspiration to me,” she said.
Joanne Barron is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-324-1406 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Republican businesswoman Fiorina to join 2016 presidential fray
- Uptown neighborhood in Pittsburgh on verge of breakthrough
- 3 shot outside Texas cartoon exhibit of Muhammad artwork
- Heyl: Letting parents keep kids willy-nilly out of class an educational fiasco
- Steelers are banking on linebackers to improve strength of defense
- Western Pennsylvania mobilizes to aid Nepal in earthquake recovery
- Rivals make Allegheny County controller race about competence
- Nonprofit dentistry back in Wilkinsburg
- Throwers fare well at Pine-Richland meet
- Santucci repeats as Pittsburgh Marathon winner; Njoroge wins men’s race
- Highlands High School post-prom raffle criticized