By Jody Lose
I have to admit that when our law office began encouraging our staff to find an organization or business that would allow us to give back to seniors and volunteer our time at I felt anxious and overwhelmed. Where would I be able to find a place that I could make a difference in a person’s life and meet my employer’s goals.
I knew I wanted to focus in my local area where I grew up and live, basically Jersey Shore and the immediate surrounding areas. You would be surprised at how many organizations do not get back to you when you call and say you actually want to volunteer for them. Well, after contacting several groups and agencies I was able to get in touch with STEP’s Jersey Shore Senior Community Center office that is located at the Tiadaghton Gardens Apartments Complex behind the Jersey Shore Elementary School. That is where I met the most giving group of volunteers under the direction of the Center Coordinator, Brenda McDermit.
The Jersey Shore Center is just one of STEP’s five Senior Centers in Lycoming County. The Senior Center provides a variety of activities to get Seniors together, keep them active and socializing with others as well as hot nutritious lunches. For seniors that are disabled or otherwise unable to get to the Senior Center, the Jersey Shore location also serves as a Meals on Wheels distribution location. They have different routes that cover not only Jersey Shore, but also from Avis and the Pine Creek/Waterville area to Antes Fort and Rauch Town, the Salladasburg and Morris area and everywhere in between. I was surprised at how far they travel to get meals to their clients who are unable to make it to the Center.
I hope I am able to provide some assistance without too much disruption in their system. I must say their volunteers work like a well oiled machine. They know exactly what needs to be done and dive right in to get everything sorted and packed so each driver and runner can go on their designated route. It has been very fulfilling to help out and meet clients every month. For some clients, the contact with a Meals on Wheels volunteer may be the only contact they have with someone the entire day.
There are volunteers that are there every day of the week, and others that can come only certain times like myself. On the days that I am able to volunteer, I trade places with a regular volunteer and it gives her a break so she has time to do other things on a day off.
There are many ways that you can help and get involved with your local Senior Centers. Like me, one way is to volunteer your time and help with the meals-on-wheels program, they also have other senior center activities that they are always looking for instructors and presenters to engage the seniors. For more information on volunteering, contact your local senior center location, or call STEP at 570-326-0587 for more information. If you are unable to volunteer your time, they also take donations through STEP, Inc. at 2138 Lincoln Street, Williamsport, PA 17701-5549, or visit their website at http://www.stepcorp.org/index.php?q=donate . Giving back to your community and seniors can be a very rewarding experience.[Jody Lose is a case manager with Marshall, Parker and Weber. You can read more about her here.]