Last year at this time, we were just getting ready to launch Better Together, a program that matches volunteers with older adults in the Sioux Falls area. With Mentoring Services being a K-12 program up until that point, we were a little unsure of what to expect. Well, nearly a year later we can say that we are incredibly humbled to be part of this program that has made an impact on dozens of people in our community.
We were hoping for 20 matches in the first year. We have already met that goal!
We were hoping that LSS had the right staff, training and systems in place to support volunteers and neighbors. While we are always looking for ways to improve, we have a solid training and ongoing assistance program in place!
We were hoping for a little funding to help support the program in addition to the very generous support of the Sioux Empire United Way. We were blessed with two years of funding from Grant Makers in Aging via the South Dakota Community Foundation to help provide quality program evaluation, marketing support and explore ways to increase the program footprint.
And most of all, we were hoping to 1) make a difference in the life of older adults and 2) offer a new and different volunteer opportunity. We look to stories like this one from Lois Schrader and Mary Beth Jacobson to verify that this program is working on both fronts!
“It’s something that is really needed,” says Lois, 88. “I thought this would be helpful.” Lois and Mary Beth have found they have many common interests, most of which involve food. They like to go out to eat, visit, go to plays and other events together. “I like being able to assist someone and make a new friend,” says Mary Beth.
Lois and Mary Beth spend about four hours together each month – in the grand scheme of life, not a lot of time – but they make a big difference to both Mary Beth and Lois. “A project like this for older people is wonderful. LSS picked up the ball and ran with it,” says Lois. “I think it’s going to grow. I hope it does.”
In order for Better Together to grow, we need your help! We are looking to double the size of the program in 2016. Please consider giving just four hours per month to make a new friend. Apply to be a Better Together volunteer today. And, if you know an older adult who would benefit from having a volunteer spend time with them, please complete a Neighbor referral form to get the enrollment process started.
If you have any questions, please call us at 221-2403.