Someone 2 Know: Senior Companions of Northern Nevada
Paula Adkins and Diana Hancock have only known each other for about a year, but in that time they have grown extremely close. They spend time together every week, in fact. "We've become very good friends. She's such a blessing in my life,” shares Paula. The women happily run errands together; trips to the library, doctor appointments or, on the day we met them, grocery shopping. “How green do you prefer your bananas, Paula?” asks Diana. Their time together is full of laughter and fun, but it also serves a purpose. Paula is blind. “I have the wet type of macular degeneration, so it kind of happened overnight." Paula still lives independently, but she needs help. So she called on Senior Corps’ Senior Companion Program of Northern Nevada. The non-profit paired the women together.
"I’ve always had a passion for older folks,” says Diana. After her mother passed away, Diana wanted to pay tribute to her by helping others. She signed up to volunteer as a Senior Companion eight years ago. Along with taking Paula places, she also helps around the house. Most importantly, however, “Just being a friend. Most of them are isolated; they either have no families or they're not able to be out and about."
Executive Director of the program, Mary Brock says this experience is invaluable. Northern Nevada’s 65 companion volunteers work with 325 seniors in need. Brock says it gives the volunteers a sense of purpose because the clients count on them. “They visit seniors still living independently and we want to keep them living independently for as long as possible." That is what Paula appreciates most. A close second is the new friendship she cherishes. "We just laugh and laugh and laugh. It's so delicious to laugh." Diana, too, enjoys this time so much she plans to give back well into her golden years. "Forever! I can't imagine not doing it. I really cannot."
Senior companion volunteers must be 55 years old or older. Volunteers go through orientation, training and a background check. They receive a small stipend and compensation for mileage. To learn more, contact Mary Brock at the contact information listed below:
Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs of Northern Nevada