By Renée Leta
Every week, Patty Cook provides eight hours of joy, companionship and support to other seniors in her community as part of Tooele’s AmeriCorps Seniors program. Established in 15 of Utah’s 29 counties, AmeriCorps Seniors are key volunteers providing services to those in need at both ends of the age spectrum.
Through the Classroom Grandparent Program, AmeriCorps Seniors serve as mentors while guiding students in classrooms and after-school programs. Students report significant improvements in their academic performance and self image after establishing relationships with older adults in the program.
Senior Companionship Program volunteers provide assistance to older adults living independently, as well as respite for primary caregivers. Not only does the community benefit, but volunteers have reported improved health and decreased isolation through their service.
“I feel great satisfaction and joy serving and making a difference in someone’s life,” says Susan NewMyer-Jeppson, an AmeriCorps Senior in Cache County. “People’s countenances change when I show up for a visit. They are so grateful for the time I share with them and for being able to express themselves with someone who cares.”
AmeriCorps Seniors and other members serve at more than 500 locations across Utah, including schools, shelters, youth centers, and veterans facilities. Utahns who are 55 or older can apply to serve as an AmeriCorps Senior in locations from Tremonton to Blanding.
Learn more here.