New York State Office for the Aging Announces State Funding to Support Expansion of Community Friendship Volunteer Program in the North Country
Volunteers Needed in Franklin and St. Lawrence Counties to Help Older New Yorkers Stay Independent in their Homes and Communities, Further Supporting New York’s Designation as the Nation’s First Age-Friendly State
Ogdensburg, New York – The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA), in partnership with the St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging, the Community Health Center of the North Country, and the Association on Aging in New York (AANYS) today announced the expansion of a successful Community Friendship Volunteer Program (CFVP) in the North Country.
The CFVP is an entirely volunteer-run program designed to supplement existing services for older adults amid growing needs throughout northern Franklin County. With this new financial support from NYSOFA and other funding sources – both public and private – the CFVP program model is now expanding into St. Lawrence County in 2021, mirroring its success in Franklin County.
The program currently matches up more than 45 volunteers with approximately 90 older adults, providing friendship, companionship, and a helping hand for individuals to stay connected to their communities and living independently. It builds on the work of existing institutions, like the county Area Office on Aging, which directly serves the needs of older adults through a variety of programs and partnerships.
CFVP is currently based out of Community Health Center of the North Country's Malone health center site. The director coordinates volunteers and places them with individuals according to their needs or interests. These volunteers: transport individuals to medical appointments for treatments like dialysis or chemotherapy, coordinate outings or activities in the community (such as crafts, picnics, or shopping trips), provide companionship to combat social isolation, and offer respite for caregivers that may need a break from time to time.
If you would like to become a volunteer or you know someone interested in receiving services, please contact:
NYSOFA Director Greg Olsen said: “CFVP is unlike any other program found in the North Country region. Many individuals lose touch with their community and, unfortunately, do not have the support they need to carry out daily activities. CFVP was created to directly respond to this need.”
“Age-friendly communities succeed when neighbors help neighbors,” he added. “Not only do the recipients benefit from this form of assistance, but we also know that there is a positive impact on a person’s health and wellness when they volunteer to help others. We are thrilled to support this important volunteer program and its expansion into St. Lawrence County.”
St. Lawrence County Administrator Ruth A. Doyle said: “On behalf of St. Lawrence County, I appreciate the collaboration and dedication of the New York State Office for the Aging, the Community Friendship Volunteer Program, and the Community Health Center of the North Country to improve the lives of older adults in our county.”
St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging Director Andrea Montgomery said: “The St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging is beyond excited for the CFVP program to finally be offered in our county. This incredible volunteer program will help many older adults in our county to age in place successfully.”
Community Friendship Volunteer Coordinator Susan Schrader said: “The CFVP is a unique program in that many of the seniors we assist make too much to qualify for government assistance or home care, but not enough to pay out of pocket for the assistance that they need to remain independent. Because we are a non-income-based program, we can provide these services at no cost to the senior. Most importantly, our volunteers provide social support through their contacts, offering the seniors in our program, many of whom are extremely isolated and lonely, the opportunity for social interaction and companionship.”
Community Health Center of the North Country Director of Communications and Marketing Ray Babowicz said: “Older residents of our communities will need our support more than ever in the coming years. As the aging population grows, so too will the unique caregiving constraints of living in the North Country: long distances from services, cold and severe winters, and lack of adequate home and community-based services. Fewer family caregivers will be available than in the past as younger generations continue to move away for education and job prospects, leaving their parents behind. Combine this with the ongoing shortage of home healthcare workers, and it is easy to see why the reliance on volunteer programs is growing exponentially.”
AANYS Executive Director Becky Preve said: “The Association on Aging in New York is thrilled to see this amazing program expanded to St. Lawrence County. The dedication of the Community Health Center to support volunteer community-based engagement is visionary, and it provides holistic care for North Country residents and their families. We applaud this partnership.”
About the New York State Office for the Aging and Health Across All Policies/Age-Friendly New York
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) continuously works to help the state’s 4.3 million older adults be as independent as possible for as long as possible through advocacy, development and delivery of person-centered, consumer-oriented, and cost-effective policies, programs, and services that support and empower older adults and their families, in partnership with the network of public and private organizations that serve them.
New York is nationally recognized for being the first age-friendly state in the nation. Using the state’s Prevention Agenda as the overarching framework, in 2017, New York launched a Health Across All Policies approach, where public and private partners work together to positively impact population health by marrying health care, preventive health, and community design, in concert with addressing social determinants of health, to improve the lives of all New Yorkers, young and old.
Stay connected—download the NYSOFA mobile app for iOS or Android; visit the NYSOFA Facebook page; follow @NYSAGING on Twitter and NYSAging on Instagram; or visit aging.ny.gov.
About the Association on Aging in New York
The mission of the Association on Aging is to support and enhance the capacity of New York's local area agencies on aging and to work in collaboration with the aging network to promote independence, preserve dignity, and advocate on behalf of aging New Yorkers and their families. For more information, visit www.agingny.org.
About Community Health Center of the North Country
Community Health Center of the North Country, one of Northern New York’s premier providers of healthcare services for people of all income levels, is part of a national network of community health centers serving over 29 million patients including 300,000 veterans, 1 in 6 Medicaid beneficiaries, nearly 1.2 million homeless, and over 7.5 million children. The organization has locations in Canton, Gouverneur, Malone, and Ogdensburg. More information is available at www.chcnorthcountry.org.
About the St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging
The St. Lawrence County Office for the Aging provides services and advocacy for county residents 60 years and older. Programs and services include: nutrition centers and home-delivered meals, NY Connects, home care services, family caregiver support, medical transportation, legal services, health insurance information counseling and assistance, health promotion classes, computer classes, nutrition education and nutrition counseling. For more information, please call (315) 386-4730 or visit https://stlawco.org/Departments/OfficefortheAging.