In full transparency, the following press release was submitted to SOURCE media for publication.
FRAMINGHAM – Advocates, a nonprofit human services provider, has received a federal grant from the Community Care Corps to recruit and train volunteers who will support socially isolated older adults and individuals with disabilities in MetroWest and Boston as well as their family caregivers.
Advocates created a program, Caring Connections Across Communities, that will recruit 70 volunteers who will assist 70 care recipients focused on the African immigrant and refugee communities in Boston and people with disabilities inMetroWest.
The volunteers will create connections with care recipients, help them with daily tasks, encourage participation in virtual and community activities, and provide respite to help reduce stress for their family caregivers.
“We anticipate both volunteers and participants experiencing social isolation to benefit from the enhanced interaction through this initiative,” said Jeff Keilson, Senior Vice President for Strategic Planning at Advocates. “Advocates was founded by community members committed to improving the health and well-being of people who were isolated and stigmatized, and our mission continues with this effort to reach truly isolated adults – particularly in communities of color – with culturally appropriate connections.”
The pandemic exacerbated already high rates of isolation among older adultsand people with disabilities, due to their greater vulnerability to COVID-19.
A December 2020 survey by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that 46% of respondents over age 60 reported feeling anxious or nervous while 38% reported depression. Volunteer support is vital for individuals to maintain the ability to live independently and stay connected within their communities.
Advocates will lead Caring Connections Across Communities in collaboration with several nonprofit partners: BayPath Elder Services of Marlborough, Central Boston Elder Services, Greater Framingham Community Church, and the Somali Development Center in Roxbury.
“We are truly honored to be a part of this project,” said Adeola Ebekozien, Deputy Director of the Somali Development Center. “Our joint efforts will help address contributors to social isolation experienced by older adults and people living with disabilities.”
Advocates’ model will embrace the belief in reciprocal benefits of volunteer service by recruiting volunteers who are older adults and people with disabilities themselves, as well as other community members. Following an application process, volunteers will receive training and ongoing supervision by volunteer coordinators. The volunteers will be matched with care recipients based on mutual interests, including their cultural background and common language.
Over the course of the program, volunteers will regularly conduct friendly visits – in person, by phone or virtually – to provide social connections and well-being checks. Volunteers may also help individuals with household tasks and transportation to support their ability to live independently or provide a break to family caregivers. Project partners will track and measure the health and well-being of participants, both care recipients and volunteers.
“BayPath Elder Services is excited to be a part of this project to regenerate a sense of community among older adults and people living with disabilities,” said Joe Quirk, Executive Director of BayPath. “Their physical and social isolation during the pandemic has been severe. We hear this from consumers and caregivers every day. This program will be a lifeline for many.”
Community Care Corps awarded a total of $2.85 million in grants to 33 local organizations nationwide, including $120,000 for the Advocates project. Through a cooperative agreement with the federal Administration for Community Living (ACL), Community Care Corps is led by four national non-profit organizations: The Oasis Institute, Caregiver Action Network, USAging and Altarum.
“We are pleased to provide this grant award to Advocates. Their excellent volunteer model was chosen along with many other outstanding programs across the country,” said Paul Weiss, President of The Oasis Institute which administers Community Care Corps.
Advocates provides a broad range of services for people facing life challenges such as addiction, aging, autism, brain injury, intellectual/developmental disabilities, and mental health challenges. With Advocates’ help, more than 30,000 individuals and families living in Massachusetts are finding the supports they need to lead healthy, productive, and rewarding lives.