If you ask Rosemarie why she volunteers at CYFS, she will tell you it is because, “there’s a lot of people who have nobody.” She just wants to be that somebody for them: a companion. Rosemarie is a volunteer for the Friendly Visitor’s Program, which is a part of our New Day Senior Services, serving seniors in Fulton, Marshall, Peoria, Stark, Tazewell and Woodford Counties. The program involves individuals helping isolated seniors in the community, aiming to combat their loneliness and assist them with activities in their daily life. The activities the volunteers coordinate with the seniors can be anything from running errands, transportation to and from medical appointments, or to simply be a friend. The ultimate goal is to improve the quality of life for the senior and build a bridge to connect with the community.
Rosemarie herself is an active member of the senior community, teaching exercise classes five days a week. She has volunteered with various local organizations over the last thirty five years of her life. She has been with CYFS since the agency’s inception. In addition, she has devoted her time to Catholic Charities, Neighborhood House and Central Illinois Riding Therapy (CIRT). She has serviced almost twenty seniors through the Friendly Visitors Program in the last five years, and has ultimately become integral in some of her seniors’ lives. Many of her seniors have become her lifelong friends, often becoming akin to family. When asked how she makes such strong connections, she says, “I just listen to them. Some of these seniors do not have anybody in their lives who is willing to hear what they have to say.”
Friendly Visitors is unique in nature, with program coordinator Ruth Urbanc saying, “This program should be supported because there is no service like it. It fills a void in the community. While the program provides many resources like transportation, which is an important service for seniors, they value the friendships more than anything else.”
These friendships allow volunteers to improve the aging experience for seniors and help them to live independently. Friendly Visitors is always looking for more volunteers. We need people willing to be that support system for vulnerable seniors. Rosemarie says, “I plan to volunteer for as long as I can. I only wish there were more volunteers. The need is there.”
If you are interested in volunteering, or if you or a family member would benefit from this service, get in contact with CYFS. Referrals can be made by family members, service providers, churches, medical professionals, or others in the community. For more information please contact: Ruth Urbanc at 309-323-6655 or at firstname.lastname@example.org