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COMPANY, CONVERSATION Senior Companions provide social outlet for lonely seniors

“Bev comes every Thursday afternoon and I have something to look forward to,” Rosemore said.

Rosemore and Haugen are part of Lutheran Social Services Senior Companions, a program that pairs senior volunteers with senior citizens who identify as lonely, homebound, isolated or disabled.

Andrea Lang, the eastern program coordinator for Senior Companions, said the program’s primary purpose is providing seniors with oneon-one companionship and social recreation.

“We (the program’s volunteers) are there to stop and visit a while,” she said.

Senior Companions serves about 650 clients statewide and has about 80 volunteers.

Haugen said she is a retired teacher who taught fifth and sixth grade at Lincoln Elementary School. She said she volunteered because she wanted to do more in the community.

“She was my client for about 15 minutes. She has been one of my best friends ever since. That is how I feel about her.

BEVERLY HAUGEN, volunteer with Senior Companions, referring to Maurinda Rosemore

Haugen said she and Rosemore have become close friends.

“She (Rosemore) was my client for about 15 minutes,” she said. “She has been one of my best friends ever since. That is how I feel about her.”

Rosemore said she really enjoys talking with Haugen about everything that has happened over the past week. She and her husband, who died 2 ½ years ago, lived in Windsor, N.D., and had a farm there until they moved to Jamestown 33 years ago. She said she would recommend Senior Companions to any senior who is in the same situation that she is.

Loretta Birdeno is another Senior Companion volunteer. She has eight clients, including Alice Swanson, who lives in an apartment in the Legacy Living Center, the former Jamestown Hospital. Swanson said she looks forward to Birdeno’s visits each week.

“I would probably just stay in my apartment and read (without Birdeno’s visits each week),” she said.”She has made me more social.”

Birdeno said she was part of the Faith in Action group in Valley City. When she moved to Jamestown a few years ago, there was no Faith in Action group here, so she volunteers with Senior Companions. She said she usually spends four to five hours each week with Swanson, helping her with laundry and troubleshooting different things.

“Sometimes she has a letter she doesn’t understand,” she said. “It’s usually just advertising. She wants to know what it means.”

Swanson and Birdeno both enjoy doing puzzles. Swanson said they have tackled some big puzzles, some with thousands of pieces. She said she also tends to get upset about things involving her family.

“Sometimes getting an outsider’s impression of things, it gets me back in balance,” Swanson said.

Lang said Lutheran Social Services is seeking seniors age 55 and older who want to volunteer to a be a Senior Companion. Those interested must volunteer 15 hours a week and undergo an application process that includes a background check and reference check. Applicants who become volunteers receive an hourly stipend of $2.65 that is tax free and doesn’t count as income and are reimbursed for travel. Volunteers also receive 40 hours a year of inservice training, be it reading, webinars or attending community events on aging and health-related topics.

Lang said she is also looking for people who want to receive Senior Companions services. Eligible clients must 60 years and older, live independently in the community and identify as lonely, homebound, isolated or disabled. People 21 years and older with a disability may also be eligible. Seniors meeting these criteria may also be referred to the program from other agencies.

Seniors interested in volunteering for Senior Companions or in becoming a client may reach Lang at 1-800-450-1510.

(701) 952-8454


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