Council of Aging needs volunteers
ELKHART, Ind. - The Council on Aging has served Elkhart County senior citizens for more than 40 years, but they're having trouble finding volunteers to help them out. The high demand for the COA's services is causing some senior citizens to get waitlisted.
The Council on Aging in Elkhart supports senior citizens by providing in-home services, social programming, and transportation services. For many seniors who live alone in Elkhart County, getting to doctor appointments and the grocery store can be a big challenge. Just like any of us, they have everyday needs that can be hard to fulfill due to physical problems, or the distance and work schedules of loved ones.
The Council on Aging started its transportation program in the early 2000s to help seniors who don't have the means to get out. James Orr is a driver for the COA and started working there because he was looking for something meaningful to do after he retired.
"I was walking down the sidewalk with sandals on and I saw the sign in another location, decided to walk in and ask what are you folks all about," said Orr, who has been driving seniors to doctor appointments, dentist appointments, and the grocery store for the last 3 years. He tells ABC 57 News that his job is very rewarding. "The worst thing is when they pass away and you feel like you lost a member of your family because you get to know these people very closely," said Orr.
The CEO for the Council on Aging, David Toney, says that while some senior citizens are able to pay for transportation services, many can't afford the costs. He tells ABC 57 News that grant money helps keep the COA running, but it doesn't cover everything. "That’s why we’re out asking for donations and asking people to support the seniors of this area," said Toney. Toney told ABC 57 News that many seniors chose to stay in Elkhart County during the recession and he believes that it's time to pay them back. "They stayed here, very easily they could’ve got up and left to go to another area where they could’ve gotten a job," said Toney. Toney believes that senior citizens in Elkhart County are patriotic because they stayed in Elkhart County during the recession. "We should be giving them back similar to the way we respect and give dignity to a veteran," said Toney.
Many others at the COA tell ABC 57 News the seniors they work with hold a very special place in their hearts. If you'd like to find more information about donating to this cause or want to get involved as a volunteer, you can call (574) 295-1820.