Portland, Maine, Mar 14, 2019 / 12:19 pm (CNA).- Catholic Charities Maine has received a $100,000 grant from the Corporation for National and Community Service to support 165 volunters aiding the state’s senior citizens.
Maine’s U.S. Senators, Angus King and Susan Collins, made the announcement this week.
“In Maine, hundreds of seniors make significant contributions through our state’s Senior Corps programs, including the RSVP program,” the senators said in a joint statement March 11.
“One of the many ways these selfless individuals help their communities is through home visits and other volunteer activities, which prevent social isolation. We welcome this funding, which supports Senior Corps volunteers’ efforts to address the unmet needs in our communities.”
Through the Corporation for National and Community Service’s Senior Corps RSVP program, the volunteers will be trained under the Catholic Charities’ program SEARCH – Seek Elderly Alone, Renew Courage & Hope. The grant is a three-year program.
“The RSVP Program… strengthens public and nonprofit agencies like Catholic Charities Maine by building the infrastructure needed to efficiently and effectively mobilize experienced and skilled volunteers to support key programs,” Kathy Mockler, communications director for Catholic Charities Maine, told CNA.
The volunteers will provide home visits, chore assistance, and companionship. The volunteers will also help senior citizens with transportation to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, and other health care resources.
Catholic Charities will be launching this ministry in Somerset County and expanding its outreach in Kennebec. The ministry already has 190 volunteers providing aid in Androscoggin, Sagadahoc, Franklin, Lincoln, and Cumberland counties.
Programs such as these help elderly people facing issues like abuse, financial exploitation, loneliness, and addiction. Mockler said the volunteers will help solve the problems unique to senior citizens, noting that Maine has a high rate of poor senior citizens.
“The median age is the oldest in the nation (44.6 years in 2015) and, according to the Economic Policy Institute, nearly half of older adults in Maine are economically vulnerable,” she said.
For the last 50 years, Catholic Charities Maine has used Independent Support Services to connect volunteers to isolated seniors. The SEARCH program was founded in 1975.
Michael Smith, director of mission at Catholic Charities Maine, told CNA the agency was grateful for the grant and expressed joy for the benefit it will bring to the community.
“We are thrilled to receive this award as it helps fulfill our mission in a personal and compassionate way to ‘love your neighbor as yourself’ (Mark 12:31) and we know how much it means to those we serve as they often note that without their volunteer they would ‘rarely get out of the house’ and that ‘it wouldn’t be possible to make important doctor’s visits and appointments without them.’”
Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Winona was also a recipient of a grant from the CNCS, for $235,443, as was Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Ogdensburg, for $73,110, and Catholic Charities Chemung/Schuyler, for $42,367.