Blair Senior Services, Inc. held its monthly in-service for Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion volunteers on June 19, 2019. The in-service was hosted at the Hollidaysburg American Legion Post 516 Social Hall, 9 a.m. – 1 p.m. During the in-service, volunteers received updates on specific programs, new volunteers were introduced and they gained beneficial information from several speakers throughout the in-service.
Volunteers received information and were able to learn more about the REAL ID Act from Matthew Becker from the PA Department of Transportation. Volunteers also had the opportunity to hear Donna Gibbs, RN, BSN, Rehabilitation Liaison from Encompass Health Rehabilitation Hospital of Altoona, speak about how they can aid in getting their companions the help they need.
“Part of what I do is complete evaluations for patients who could benefit from an in-patient stay at Encompass Health,” Gibbs said. “One of the biggest things I wanted to get across is: if they see a decline in their companion, family member or friend, those are all things that are important and are considered a functional decline which needs to be evaluated.”
Gibbs’ also focuses on educating patients, caregivers and companions before they see a functional decline.
“Sometimes when older adults go to the doctors, they’re in and out so quickly they don’t understand the physician’s orders or their diagnosis. I’m happy to bring the education they need so they understand. Our goal is to educate patients so they can become advocates for themselves.”
Volunteers were able to mingle and take part in several drawings for prizes while enjoying lunch. The final speakers of the afternoon were Cris Fredrickson, Operations and Training Officer and Kate Rimbeck, Administration Assistant from the Blair County Emergency Management Agency and Blair County Department of Emergency Services, to speak about how to stay prepared during emergencies with Smart 911 technology.
Theresa Williams has been a volunteer at Blair Senior Services, Inc. for 6 years as a Senior Companion.
Theresa, who was forced into retirement after an injury, started to feel like she needed something else and wanted to supplement her income. “After a few years, I had some boredom and wanted to do something else. I enjoy taking care of people so the Senior Companion Program was perfect for me,” she said.
As a Senior Companion, Theresa assists consumers by providing assistance around the home, sharing in conversation about past memories, or even attending social events together.
“I enjoy being a Senior Companion because I enjoy building those relationships,” Theresa said. “I love being able to make them laugh and to see that I am making a difference in their day.”
Along with all of the other companionship roles, Theresa can also provide transportation when needed for her consumers. “I always enjoy taking them grocery shopping. I think it’s fun to take them out to the store, and it’s nice to see them getting out. We always have a lot of fun,” Theresa commented.
Along with being a Senior Companion, Theresa also works as a Certified Nurses Aid (CNA) at Hillview Healthcare and Rehabilitation Center and assists with activities and breakfast at Allegany Lutheran Social Ministries (ALSM) for the residents. She is also a family caregiver, taking care of her mother full-time.
“I’m a very busy person, so my time with my clients through the Senior Companion Program is really helpful to me. It’s very relaxing,” she said. “It lets me press pause on my day to really focus on the clients and assisting them.”
Along with the relaxation, Theresa feels with being a Senior Companion, she’s also found a second family. “My clients have become like a second family to me. There are some that I just have a great relationship with and we share so many things together,” she shared.
Above all, Theresa enjoys the rewarding aspects of her role the most. “It’s very rewarding to be there for people and to help them with every day things,” she stated. “I never would’ve pictured myself doing something that I love so much. Blair Senior Services has really helped me along the way and I couldn’t be more grateful.”
If you are interested in volunteering for Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Senior Companion Program, please call 814-946-1235.
Rick “Mac” MacIntyre has been a dedicated Van Driver for Blair Senior Services, Inc. for 32 years.
Mac, who began driving when things were much different, reflected back on the differences when he started as a driver: “The whole operation has just changed completely. We are now working on a more computerized system, so now there’s computer schedules instead of paper,” he said. “I tell the new drivers they’re lucky, because before we didn’t have a garage, so we’d have to clean off our vans in the winter time just like everyone else. Now, we report to work and we have a nice, dry van to start up and move on with our day.”
Before Mac started as a Van Driver, he worked at United Service Company, a linen supply company out of Johnstown. Looking for a career change, he found out about the job through his neighbor and has worked as a driver ever since, into his retirement years.
Mac’s favorite aspect of his job is the connection he feels with his riders. “I really like the people you meet and the interaction you have with the consumers. I’ve had a lot of friendships with consumers since I’ve worked here for 32 years,” Mac said.
Just by speaking with Mac uncovers his passion and love for driving for Blair Senior Services, Inc. His biggest accomplishment over the course of his career is a clean driving record.
“Over 32 years of driving and I’ve never had an accident,” Mac said. “I’m kind of proud of that.”
Not only is this a great accomplishment overall, but especially in today’s world with all of the distractions everyday drivers face. “Today my biggest challenges are distracted drivers and making sure I keep my consumers safe,” Mac said. “It’s definitely harder to drive today than what it was when I started. We have to be very diligent as drivers and drive very defensively to ensure everyone stays safe on the road.”
One of the things Mac would like to remind readers about Blair Senior Services, Inc. Transportation Services is that they can take you to more than just doctor’s appointments. “We can provide trips to family visits, hair appointments, the store… you name it. If you qualify, we can take you,” Mac shared. To inquire about transportation services, call Blair Senior Services, Inc.’s Transportation Office at 814-695-3500.