What is Helping Hands? The Senior Corps Office at ACCA received a federal grant to operate a program for volunteers age fifty-five and up. The grant requires the program to direct volunteer resources toward unmet community needs within a mandated focus area. The Helping Hands program focuses on providing services that allow homebound or disabled adults to remain living independently. Choosing this focus area allows volunteers to integrate seamlessly with the services ACCA already provides, and allows Helping Hands to develop new volunteer opportunities to address unmet needs. After identifying the greatest needs of seniors in our community Helping Hands established the three components of the program: Giving A Ride, Being A Friend and Providing Food.
Who can lend a Helping Hand? The Helping Hands program is open to people age fifty-five and up living in a county served by ACCA that have completed the required volunteer screenings. (Athens-Clarke, Barrow, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Walton)
What volunteer opportunities are available through Helping Hands? Helping Hands will allow you to Get Involved, Give Back and Make an Impact in three specific areas of the greatest need in Athens.
Helping Hands Giving a Ride: Imagine what it would feel like to lose your transportation independence. Limited and lost access to transportation creates barriers to food, medication, household management activities, and social activities. For many older adults, this is a daily struggle, as men are likely to live six years beyond their driving expectancy, and women eleven years. ACCA conducted a local Transportation Needs Assessment Survey and 88% of those surveyed said a new transportation program for seniors was needed.
Get Involved, Give Back, and Make an Impact by Giving A Ride
Volunteer Drivers use their own vehicles to help transportation dependent seniors get to life sustaining and life enriching destinations. Volunteer Drivers may set their own schedule based on availability, and are asked to commit to at least one round trip per month. Learn more about Giving A Ride HERE.
Helping Hands Being a Friend – Imagine that you are ninety-one years old. Your spouse died six months ago, your children do not live nearby, most of your friends have moved or passed away. A recent Brigham Young University study found that loneliness was a stronger predictor of early death than obesity or a sedentary lifestyle and as strong a predictor as alcoholism and a fifteen pack per day smoking habit.
Get Involved, Give Back, and Make an Impact by Being A Friend
Friendly Visitor Volunteers are matched with socially isolated seniors, we call them “neighbors”, for regular in-home visits and telephone reassurance. Volunteer placements will take into consideration volunteer availability, the neighbors need, and the distance between their homes. Learn more about Being a Friend HERE.
Helping Hands Providing Food – Think about these statements: The food I bought didn’t last, and I didn’t have money to buy more; I couldn’t afford to eat balanced meals; I was hungry because I couldn’t afford meals. Unfortunately, for many people in our community, these statements are true. When ACCA conducted a screening of our clients we found that, depending on the program, 30 to 60% of our clients were at risk for hunger.In response ACCA has partnered with the Northeast Georgia Food Bank, UGA Office of Service Learning: Campus Kitchen Program, UGA Department of Foods and Nutrition, and the UGArden to create the Squash Senior Hunger Coalition.
Get Involved, Give Back, and Make an Impact by Providing Food
Working with ACCA and our partners, volunteers help get meals, groceries and assistance to seniors in the community at risk for hunger. Volunteers may help distribute groceries with the Mobile Food Pantry, help seniors access food assistance with Georgia CAFÉ, share meals with a homebound senior through Lunch Buddies, drive a supplemental food route with Route 17: Take Out Tuesday, or help out in ACCA’s community gardens. Learn more about Providing Food HERE.
Why Helping Hands? The benefits of being a Helping Hands volunteer include personalized placement and ongoing support from the Senior Corps staff, supplemental insurance while volunteering, high quality training, and mileage reimbursement for Giving a Ride volunteers.
In addition to these tangible benefits there are numerous intangible rewards to getting involved, giving back and making an impact in the lives of others. Research has found that volunteering provides older adults with improved physical and mental health and greater life satisfaction. To put it another way, giving back makes you feel good.
Becoming a Helping Hands Volunteer – The first step toward becoming a Helping Hands Volunteer is to submit the appropriate paperwork. There are five items to be reviewed and completed in order for you to begin service. All paperwork is available in hard copy form at ACCA or is readily available online.
- ACCA Volunteer Registration Form: Please complete. This form can be submitted electronically or as a hard copy.
- Helping Hands Enrollment Form: Please complete.
- ACCA Background Check: Please complete. Volunteers must complete and pass a Background Check. If you will be transporting clients as a volunteer, we also include an MVR check with the background check. Although the agency cost of the background check is $35, this fee is waived for Helping Hands volunteers.
- ACCA Volunteer Handbook Rev 2013: Please read in its entirety and then sign and submit the final three pages: Confidentiality Agreement, Handbook Acknowledgement, and Photo Release.
- Client Protection Assurances Training: This interactive, online training module provides potential volunteers with the training necessary to recognize and follow HIPAA guidelines, protect client confidentiality as well as adequately understand ACCA’s Code of Ethics and each individual client’s rights and responsibilities. Following completion of the online training module, you must successfully submit and pass the training quiz at the end of the presentation. This training will take 20-30 minutes to complete.
Upon receipt of these items and following a satisfactory Background Check, Helping Hands staff will review your submitted information. Once approved, we will contact you and set up a time for volunteer orientation and any other additional trainings required for the volunteer job (see job descriptions for more information).
Helping Hands provides volunteer opportunities with RSVP at ACCA. RSVP is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service and is sponsored locally by the Athens Community Council on Aging. RSVP was established in 1971 and is America’s largest volunteer network for adults age 55 and over, with over 300,000 volunteers serving nationwide.