Paula Wilhoft and Beverly Hinds have been close friends for four years now, and both say they have changed one another’s lives for the better. Paula is a Senior Companion and Beverly is her client, but you would never guess they weren’t sisters based on the relationship that has developed thanks to the Senior Companion Program.
Senior Companions are volunteers 55 years and older who help peers maintain, regain or extend independent living and is in need of volunteers. Senior Companions assist frail older adults with home visits and socialization activities and receive a tax-free stipend for their time. The program is sponsored locally by Catholic Social Services with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service, and the Council for Older Adults. Connections Volunteer Center, a program of Helpline, administers the program that has benefitted many older adults in our community.
After living many places throughout the Eastern United States, Paula moved to Delaware in 2000. An illness led to her losing her job and eventually her tidy home on Pennsylvania Avenue, subsequently she moved in with her daughter in 2003. Thankfully she recovered, but the illness and loss left her battling depression. One day she received a flyer about the program and was encouraged to attend an orientation to see if she would be a good fit as a companion. She originally thought this would be an opportunity to help others; but soon found that the relationships she has developed through the program have helped her as well, “The depression is long gone. I now hold my head high and am back to being the talkative person I lost for a time. It is an honor that my clients welcome me into their homes and lives. This bond feels like sisterhood—like family. This is good for my heart.”
Beverly feels the same way about Paula, “We take drives in the country, she takes me to appointments, plants flowers and helps me run errands. Mostly we enjoy talking, laughing and just being silly together.” Beverly moved to Delaware 41 years ago from California after her husband became ill. The retired librarian saw an advertisement for the Senior Companion Program in the local paper and called to ask for a companion. “This program helps me by knowing I have a friend who listens to me,” says Beverly.
Paula is impressed with all of the support she receives to be the best she can be as a Senior Companion, “I have held many jobs throughout my life, but none that are as generous and caring about my well-being as this opportunity—the stipend, mileage, vacation time, paid holidays, back up volunteers, and regular training are fantastic. I feel challenged, but in a very good way.”
If you or someone you know might like to become a Senior Companion, please call Connections Volunteer Center at (740) 363-5000 today.