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Group provides help for elderly



Published: Sun, September 23, 2007 @ 2:00 a.m.

The Trumbull County

organization is seeking

more volunteers.

By MAYSOON ABDELRASUL

VINDICATOR TRUMBULL STAFF

WARREN — When somebody knocks on the door, either to just say hello and have a friendly conversation or to help do daily tasks, the feeling of loneliness is gone.

Some people, especially the aged, may call them an angel. But, in fact, they are really guardian angels who volunteer their time to help the elderly.

Susan Rebhan, director of the Guardian Angels Volunteer program, said the program is designed to let elderly people — some who don’t have anyone — know that there is someone there for them.

“We believe there is a value in older adults, and we want to give them a better quality of life,” she said.

Rebhan works under Probate Judge Tom Swift, where the program initially began. Many of the elderly people visited are under guardianship of the court.

Judge Swift said there is need for this organization.

“There are many older adults in Trumbull County who don’t have families or friends who can assist them in their daily lives,” he said.

The organization provides the elderly with friendships because the volunteers want to be there, he said.

Variety of activities

The judge said they can do anything from grocery shopping to just calling them from time to time to see how they are doing.

“It’s nice to see something in the community that’s working and doesn’t cost anybody anything,” he said.

There are 24 Guardian Angel volunteers in Trumbull County, and they are having a “meet and greet the angels” orientation at 6 p.m. Oct. 2 for anyone interested in joining the program. The meeting will be at Waterstone Place, 1380 Arbor Ave.

The program began about four years ago, and its mission is to reach out in friendship to people who are elderly and alone in the county.

Volunteers can serve as court visitors, advocates and legal guardians.

“The program has been successful, but in order for it to continue to be successful, we need those volunteers,” Judge Swift said.

Warren resident Luanne Bollas was among the program’s first volunteers. A registered nurse, she has been exposed to many elderly people and said she has seen firsthand that many are alone and need someone to just check up on them.

Her mother passed away a few years back, and her 87-year-old father lives with her and her family.

“The organization just struck me as something that would interest me,” she said.

Bollas shared a story about a man she used to visit who loved animals. Working with the care facility where he lived, she arranged to have a cat stay with him. He was able to keep the cat for as long as he could take care of it, which lasted nine months.

“I could see how happy he was with the cat,” she said. “Hopefully it increased his quality of life for that time period.”

The good thing about the program, she said, is that visits to the elderly can be worked around volunteers’ schedules.

Niles resident Zoa Lykins said she makes personal visits to the elderly.

She also is a registered nurse and knows that the elderly sometimes need people just to talk to. She encourages people to attend the orientation because the elderly would love to have extra visitors.

Lykins tells them animal stories because they enjoy listening to them. They also reminisce about the “old days,” and that helps to trigger their memory.

The program also allows for young children to visit the elderly. Lykins said sometimes Girl Scouts go and visit, and the elderly just love that.


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