We’re seeking city volunteers

A report from the American Association of Retired Persons that just came out states that, in New York State alone, there are 7,000 New Yorkers on waiting lists for transportation and other non-medical services, and four million New Yorkers who provide “informal” services to family and neighbors (AARP.org). 

Most urgently, the report also states that caregiving will be the number-one workplace issue in the near future as baby boomers age and the population of the elderly also increases due to people living longer.  Caregivers providing non-medical services can often keep relatives out of nursing homes and other care facilities for years, just by helping with bills, shopping, errands, and transportation to appointments.

But many must work, or don’t live near their relatives, and count on organizations to help.

Community Caregivers, a not-for-profit organization, has provided these services in Albany County since 1994, and is preparing for the need to increase. 

It already has. We have plenty of clients to serve, and have already expanded from serving just Altamont, the Hilltowns, Bethlehem, and Guilderland, to all of Albany County now. The problem is getting volunteers in the new areas of expansion; most want to stay in their local areas.

Throughout the last eight years, Community Caregivers has had 500 volunteers who provided over 28,000 direct services to over 800 clients. Community Caregivers’ model is to recruit and train volunteers, and match them up with clients who get services for free.

The organization survives on grants and community support, to pay for oversight of volunteers, an registered nurse who does an initial assessment of the client, and program staff to provide ongoing training both for volunteers and the community on caregiving.

AARP and other organizations are advocating for more federal and state resources for caregivers.  Community Caregivers receives New York State Department of Health funds now, and hopes to be able to both get more funding to provide services and advocate for caregivers themselves to be able to be reimbursed for their services.  This will be increasingly more important in the next few years. 

Community Caregivers website, www.communitycaregivers.org, has information on volunteering, referring clients, and services provided.

Editor’s note: Kathy Burbank is the executive director of Community Caregivers.