SARATOGA SPRINGS — Dave Dudley and Sonia Kiska are one perfect volunteer match.
When Kiska was widowed recently, she relocated and needed help getting around to her appointments, getting groceries and other tasks that were difficult once she couldn’t drive anymore. She found out about the Community Connections Program via the Adult and Senior Center of Saratoga and was matched with volunteer Dave Dudley, who could help get her around when she needed it.
“He takes me everywhere. He sits in my eye doctor appointment for two hours,” said Kiszka. “I am really so lucky that he is here to help me out, since my husband passed away. I first met Dave when he came to help clean out our garage. And he’s been just so kind and helpful to me.”
A widower himself, Dave finds the program mutually beneficial. “You educate each other — and it’s very rewarding,” said Dudley.
According to the National Council on Aging, older adults are looking to their communities for support as they age so they can continue living in their homes as long as possible, with 75 percent intending to live in their current home for the rest of their lives. As such, the need for programs to help seniors age in place and maintain an independent lifestyle has increased significantly over the past 5-10 years.
Other communities across the United States have embraced volunteer matching programs as an answer to the growing need for the expanding senior population that are living independently, but find an increased need for services as they age.
The volunteer program called “Community Connections” serves adults 50 and over in Saratoga County by matching their needs with volunteers from the community. The program recruits, trains and deploys volunteers to provide assistance to seniors residing in Saratoga County, including home visits, respite assistance, household chores, transportation, shopping and errands, telephone check-ins and referral to other Saratoga County organizations.
Volunteers are matched with seniors based on their availability, time constraints and interests. From one hour a month to a few days a week, volunteers can help out as much as their busy schedules allow.
“My wife and I had time to give and needed to get out of the house more” said Roy Scott, a volunteer for the program whose wife, Marianne, has been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s. “It helps us to focus on others who need assistance, and we have a great time meeting people. It is a good feeling to help out.”
The program is free and has helped more than 100 seniors since it was started in 2015. The program is actively recruiting volunteers from the community who would like to work with seniors.
If you are interested in volunteering, or live in Saratoga County and need assistance, you can call 584-1621 or email [email protected]