Senior Companions celebrate 34 years

Haley Gustafson | Daily Press The current Menominee-Delta-Schoolcraft Community Action Agency (MDSCAA) Senior Companion volunteers pause for a photo following a luncheon honoring the companions at the Island Resort and Casino recently. Currently, there are approximately 44 volunteers that are active.

HARRIS — The Menominee-Delta Schoolcraft Community Action Agency (MDSCAA) recently celebrated 34 years of service for their volunteer Senior Companion Program (SCP). A luncheon was held for the volunteers at the Island Resort and Casino in Harris to recognize the companions throughout Menominee, Delta, and Schoolcraft counties.

According to Connie Maule, director of the SCP, the 2016-17 program provided 44,936 hours of volunteer service to residents in need.

SCP is a national program and was started locally in 1983 by the MDSCAA Human Resources Authority with funding from Michigan Office of Service and by local, public and private non-profit agencies.

To be eligible to be a companion, volunteers must be 55 years of age and above and who have a passion for helping others. Companions receive 40 hours of orientation before they are given an assignment and receive on-going monthly in-service training.

Most volunteers serve five days a week, or about 15-20 hours, without cost to themselves. Companions on duty receive a modest hourly stipend, reimbursement for transportation and meals, on-duty insurance, and an annual physical examination.

Senior Companions around the area visit assisted living facilities, adult foster care homes, nursing homes, and resident’s homes.

“The biggest thing we do with them is companionship,” said Maule.

While visiting, volunteers play cards, create puzzles, read, play bingo and provide transportation to and from doctor’s appointments or to pick-up prescriptions.

“It’s all something a friend would do,” said Maule.

During the luncheon, one companion was recognized for her many years of active service. Dorothy Sahn, a 16-year Senior Companion, was awarded the Gilbert Sablack Award making her the companion of the year. Sahn, who recently retired from the program, did most of her volunteer work at Christian Park Village in Escanaba.

Currently, there are approximately 44 volunteers that are active throughout Delta, Schoolcraft and Menominee counties.

Anyone who is interested in being a Senior Companion can contact Maule at 786-7080, ext. 144.