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Young at Heart August 2021

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Social Dancing for solos and couples Peggy Pollard, Teacher Peggy@WaltzTribe.com www.WaltzTribe.com www.PeggyDance.weebly.com Santa Cruz Waltz & Swing In Class & On-line Dances & Lessons Waltz Tribe membership Grow your mind, body & soul Dance to music you love Sign up Now for up-coming Classes! not demanding, and it is great to see the smile on a person's face and hear a thank you." Back to the Senior Transportation/Grocery Shopper program, which aims to help isolated seniors who can no longer drive. The Senior Transportation Program was paused for more than a year due to COVID-19. The Center's Senior Programs team listened to the needs of seniors struggling during this pandemic and jumped into action, designing and developing two new programs to help allevi- ate stress. "First, thanks to our Senior Programs Specialist John Carroll, we were able to con- vert our Transportation Program into a Grocery Shopper program," says Ireland. "Shortly after this, we came up with the idea for a phone based, friendly caller program to check in with seniors who might be struggling with loneliness" (more on that later). From July 2020 to June 2021, the Center fulfilled about 4,000 grocery requests from 160 Santa Cruz County residents. Those requests added up to approximately 12,000 bags of groceries and made a big impact on the people receiving them. To accomplish this, 140 volunteer shoppers and 11 volunteer dispatchers donated their time (the latter are the volunteers who answer phones and emails and help coordi- nate the transportation and grocery shopper pro- grams). During this time, the Center donated an es- timated 12,000 volunteer hours and travelled over 60,000 miles via car and bike across the county— and those volunteers who used a bicycle or electric vehicle saved an estimat- ed 11.5 tons of CO2! During non-pandemic times, transportation volunteers often drive seniors to grocery stores, pharmacies, banks, and medical appointments. Some volunteers drive once a month, others once a week. "Transportation volunteers are special and unique individuals," says Ireland. "It's not about just getting the person to their appointment on time, it's about conversation and connection for these volunteers and the partici- pants they drive. We often have program participants request to be picked up by certain drivers because they love talking with them. They laugh, share family stories and bond over shared interests." Transportation client "JT" Judy Verbeck used this service in the past. "Everyone was so kind and helpful," says Ver- beck. "To know there was someone I could depend on, to get me where I needed to go…I'm very grateful that there are people in the community willing to do this. It is a stress relief to know these kinds of services are available." Steve Koontz, 68, is a Transportation volunteer. As a freelance high-tech marketing writer, he has a flexible schedule and drives seniors to medi- cal appointments. When asked why he enjoys do- ing this service, he replied "Volunteering feels very natural to me. I like doing things that need to get done, whether it's senior needs, Little League, or doing the dishes. For me, driving someone to a doctor's appointment isn't any different than fixing a window or watching Netflix. It's just life." "It's really inspiring to have people caring and wanting to help others who aren't able to do things like grocery shop," says Ariana Loving, who utilizes the Senior Grocery Shopping Program. Barbara Stephens is another Grocery client. "I am very happy with the Shoppers Program," she says. "The volunteers have been very sweet and very efficient. It's been a real plus in my life." As we noted, Helping Hands is a program that can aid with preventing falls (among other things), but the Center also has a specific program for this. Over the last few years the Center has added addi- tional senior programs to help support its goal of Empowered Aging. One of these, A Matter of Balance, is focused on falls preven- tion. "These classes give older adults a chance to support one another and increase their confidence, strength and balance in order to reduce their chances of experiencing a fall," says Ireland. "We have seen some wonderful connections and friend- ships form during these classes. Our experienced volunteers love facilitating the programs." In January, they added a virtual falls prevention program that took A Matter of Bal- ance and converted it to a Zoom-enabled evi- dence-based program. It was a big success and they are planning another class for late fall. The Stay Connected phone outreach program, specializing in engaging with seniors with the added benefit of connect- ing people to community resources, was created during the pandemic to address the isolation many people were experiencing. Jan B., who turns 91 next month, is disabled and can't leave her home. She really appreciates Stay Connected. Once a week, a volunteer calls her at the same day and time. "It's wonderful, we talk about ordinary things," says Jan, who also utilizes the Help- ing Hands and Grocery Shopper Programs. "The Center does a great job in helping the community." When COVID-19 and shelter in place hit our community, the call vol- ume to Senior Programs at the Center significantly increased. "In addition to needing our services, many seniors were seeking other commu- nity referrals," explains Ireland. "Last year we served about 545 seniors, adults with disabilities and low-income individuals in Santa Cruz County." This year they are on track to exceed the number of seniors served across the Volunteer Center Programs. "We engaged around 375 volunteers last year but are in need of more people this year to help us meet the growing demand for our pro- grams." There are many differ- ent ways a person can volunteer. For example, the Center has some opportunities that are "outdoors only" for those who may prefer this. Or you can fill out "Thinking of You" cards that will be delivered to seniors who are isolated in nursing homes, or pack groceries for those in need. There are projects that can be completed in a few hours or a day, or opportunities Get to Know the... continued from page 1 to serve on a regular basis. There are even one-hour commitments like helping distribute food at certain locations. If you're inter- ested in volunteering "in general" but don't know where to start, the Center has a Volunteer Matching Program. Call 831-427- 5070 to set up an appoint- ment to talk one-on-one with someone to fit your skills, time and interest to the right opportunity. Visit scvolunteercenter.org/ programs/volunteer-refer- ral for information. Volunteering isn't just a benefit to the person or community you're serv- ing; it benefits you too! "Many older adults I talk with who are retired tell me they feel like they still have so much to give and that volunteering fills this need to contribute and en- gage in our community," says Ireland. "Additional- ly, some great studies have been conducted that show the positive impact volun- teering has on the overall health of individuals. But most people don't need to read a study to understand this. They just feel good after helping someone, so they want to be of service again because of the way they feel." If you're reading this and are intrigued about volunteering for either the Transportation Program or Helping Hands—both programs can definitely use more people—Ireland encourages you to contact her directly at 831-427- 5070 or helpinghands@ scvolunteercenter.org. If you are a senior in need, please don't hesitate to reach out to the Center; the wonderful staff and volunteers are ready to help! Contact Information: scvolunteercenter.org 1740 17th Ave., Santa Cruz, 831-427-5070 349 Main St. Suite 208, Watsonville, 831-722- 6708 A recipient of Transportation Program services (credit Linda Tulett Photography) In the last year, the Santa Cruz Volunteer Center: • facilitated service from 14,000 volunteers • helped get 50,000 COVID vaccines in people's arms through its volunteers • contributed the equivalent of $11.3 million (val- ue of the hours donated through volunteers) • helped 7,700 people through its programs Note that the above statistics are for the Center as a whole, not just programs for seniors. Is your Medicare Coverage still right for you? For more information, you can meet with me or attend one of my Kaiser Permanente Medicare Health Plans seminars. Please call: Learn more at kp.org/medicare You must reside in the Kaiser Permanente Medicare health plan service area in which you enroll. For accommodations of persons with special needs at meetings call TTY 711. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan, Inc. 393 E. Walnut St. Pasadena, CA 91188-8514 Y0043_N00015450_C Greg Orais Kaiser Permanente Medicare specialist 925-464-0537 (TTY 711) mykpagent.org/grego Please recycle. 446781680 CA February 2020 Helping Hands volunteers A volunteer bike delivery person from the Grocery Shopper program A volunteer driver from the Grocery Shopper program

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