Archived Story

United Way seeks volunteers to help senior citizens

Published 9:37pm Monday, September 10, 2012

United Way of Southwest Michigan is looking for a few hundred volunteers Nov. 1 to go into the community and help our local senior citizens get ready for the long, cold Michigan winter for the 2012 Day of Action for Seniors.

“The Day of Action for Seniors will serve nearly 200 senior citizens in Berrien and Cass counties,” United Way President Anna Murphy said. “We will rake leaves, clean gutters and seal windows. But, it is going to take an army of about 450 volunteers to get it all done.”

United Way is asking companies to put together teams of volunteers for the Day of Action for Seniors. Volunteers can sign up to participate at the United Way website at www.uwsm.org or by calling (269) 982-1700.

Volunteers are encouraged to give the entire day, but if they are only available for the morning or afternoon, United Way will gratefully accept the help.

“Companies in our area are starting to put together teams of people for this day,” said Sharon Polfus, United Way director of business revenue. “While serving the community, this is also a great way for companies to do some employee team building.”

Last year, the event brought company teams and individuals together and made a huge difference in the lives of seniors. During the one-day event, more than 350 people working in teams volunteered for the Day of Action for Seniors.  It was a win-win for the volunteers and seniors.

“Such a lovely group of people came to my home,” said Ruby, a senior served through the Day of Action. “I’m so appreciative of all the work. I can’t believe they did this for me.”
United Way, through a partnership with Area Agency on Aging Region IV, is recruiting seniors who are in need of the services.

“We partnered with Area Agency on Aging to make sure we are reaching our most vulnerable seniors,” Murphy said. “In addition, the service is open to any other senior in Berrien or Cass counties. Our primary goal is to help those seniors who are unable to do the work themselves and it would cause a financial hardship for them to pay to have it done.”

Seniors can sign up through the United Way website at www.uwsm.org or by calling (269) 982-1700. Seniors will be served on a first-come, first-served basis. The number of homes will depend upon the number of volunteers.

People don’t always think about how difficult winter preparation is for seniors, said Christine Vanlandingham, fund and product development officer for Area Agency on Aging, Region IV.

“Leaf raking is hard work,” she said. “It requires twisting, bending, lifting and reaching. That type of physical activity can cause an injury that threatens not just a senior’s health but their independence.”

Gutter cleaning and window insulation put seniors at risk of falling, Vanlandingham explained.

“Falls are the leading cause of injury and the most common cause of hospitalization for older adults,” she said. “A fall can impact quality of life and result in the loss of a senior’s ability to live independently.”

The help goes beyond safety. The gutter cleaning and window sealing can help seniors on fixed incomes save money in heating bills and costly roofing repairs.

For more information about United Way, visit www.uwsm.org or www.liveunited.org.

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