With Senior Corps Week honored earlier in May, some agencies around the North Little Rock area are recognizing how senior volunteers make an impact on their communities. One such local volunteer program that enlists the volunteer efforts of seniors is the CareLink Senior Companion Program.
The CareLink Senior Companion Program has seniors work with disabled seniors in their homes, helping them with light housekeeping, meal preparation, transportation, respite and socialization. The Senior Companions can volunteer 15-40 hours per week and are compensated for their time with a stipend and mileage reimbursement, said Ashley Burks, one of the program’s facilitators.
During the week of May 6-10, the Senior Companions were giving back even more by writing birthday cards to deployed female soldiers through Soldiers’ Angels. Soldiers’ Angels is a volunteer-based 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the mission of providing aide and comfort to the men and women of the United States Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard and their families.
By working together with a common vision of service, the volunteers of Soldiers’ Angels continue to make a visible difference in the lives of veterans, the wounded, deployed service members, and their families.
"The Senior Companion volunteers often help homebound seniors to remain independent in their own home and provide respite to family members," said Burk. "One example of this is the relationship between Senior Companion, Wash Chatman, and Billy Don Bone."
Bone is a long-time resident of North Little Rock. He graduated from North Little Rock High School and before he retired, he was employed at McSwain Bait Shop. After having medical problems, he and his wife found themselves in need of help from a Senior Companion.
Senior Companion Wash Chatman has been a Senior Companion with CareLink for nine and a half years. He gladly took the assignment to work with Bone.
"They hit it off from the beginning, swapping stories about family, jobs, and even finding out that Mr. Chatman had once been a neighbor of Mr. Bone’s father," Burks said. "Mr. Chatman has been able to relieve some of the stress off of Mr. Bone’s wife. Mr. Chatman is able to come during the day while Mr. Bone’s wife is at work and help with personal care, light housekeeping, transportation, meal preparation, and socialization."
Bone’s and Mr. Chatman’s favorite activity to do together is laugh and talk about memories from their past. Bone said of Chatman, "He is a wonderful volunteer. I wish you had a hundred more just like him."
If you or someone you know would like to become a Senior Companion Volunteer, please call CareLink at 372-5300 and ask for Ashley Burks.