Senior Companion Program celebrates 35 years with recognition banquet

Clarissa Kell | Daily Press Volunteers were honored at the Senior Companion Program’s 35th Annual Recognition Banquet on Nov. 1. Connie Maule, the director of the Senior Companion Program, and Linda Paulin, the coordinator, presented awards to the volunteers for the years they served. These 11 volunteers were honored for 10 or more years of service in the program. Shown above, in the back row from left, are Jim Newhouse, Don Sayklly, Gerald Allsworth, Fay Nygaard, Mary Lou Break, Sally Briggs, Linda Paulin, and Lee Robbert. From left in the front row are Connie Maule, Lorna Cutler, Sharon Johnson, Albert Marohnic, and Lois Robbert.

HARRIS — The Convention Center at the Island Resort and Casino was filled with laughter during the Senior Companion Program’s 35th Annual Recognition Banquet on Nov. 1. Every single Senior Companion volunteer was honored for the years they served.

“(Volunteers) receive something different every year for their service. One year it might be a ribbon, the next might be a keychain,” Connie Maule, the director of the program, said.

When a volunteer reaches the milestone of volunteering for five years, they receive a plaque. Maule explained after the fifth year, volunteers are awarded each year with a metal inscription to place on the plaque.

The mission of the Senior Companion Program is to add richness to the lives of the Senior Companions while providing access to the community through grocery shopping, transportation to medical appointments and opportunities for socialization.

Some volunteers were honored for being new to the program, while others were honored for serving 10 or more years.

Maule had anecdotal stories for almost every volunteer that came up for their awards.

When Lois Robbert was awarded for 14 years of volunteering and Lee Robbert was awarded for 15 years, Maule joked around about how Lee Robbert recruited his wife to the program.

Albert Marohnic was awarded for 22 years of being a senior companion, the longest period of service honored at the banquet.

“(Marohnic) is still visiting the same individual he was set up with 22 years ago,” Maule explained to everyone as she called him forward to present his award. “This is what the program is all about.”

The volunteers were also honored for the 44,805 hours of volunteer service that was provided in the 2017-2018 year. Senior Companion volunteers serve up to 40 hours each week, or an average of four hours a day.

The Senior Companion Program serves Menominee, Delta and Schoolcraft counties and is sponsored by the MDS Community Action Agency. According to the MDS Community Action Agency website, Senior Companions receive 40 hours of training and attend regular, monthly in-service training before they are given an assignment.

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