The Meals on Wheels San Antonio Senior Companion Program is a peer-to-peer program where caring senior volunteers befriend homebound seniors in their community. The program is designed to foster independence among seniors by engaging them in community service, providing them companionship opportunities, and offer respite to both professional and family caregivers.
Who manages the Senior Companion Program?
The Senior Companion Program is operated locally by Meals on Wheels San Antonio, but is part of a national program called Senior Corps. Senior Corps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, an independent federal agency created to connect Americans of all ages and backgrounds with opportunities to give back to their communities and their nation. The main offices (for the program) are located at 13420 Nacogdoches Rd, San Antonio, Texas 78217.
How does the program work?
To be involved with the program, you can sign-up as either a volunteer (referred to as a Senior Companion) or as a recipient of service. Depending on your interest in the program, staff will conduct an evaluation before you are matched with another senior.
Who can become a volunteer (Senior Companion)?
Experience or special skills are not necessary to become a Senior Companion, simply time and an interest in helping another person live independently. The two main requirements to become a Senior Companion are age and income. A person must be 55 years old or older and have limited income. Before a volunteer (Senior Companion) is assigned to a homebound senior, they are required to participate in a 20-hr training session, undergo a physical examination, and pass a criminal background check. Every volunteer is required to attend monthly in-service meetings throughout their tenure.
What are the responsibilities of a Senior Companion?
Senior Companions are asked to befriend their client and help them maintain their independence. This can be accomplished by helping clients with daily living tasks, playing games, having meaningful conversation, writing letters and/or helping with their favorite hobbies. Mostly, Senior Companions are asked to keep a watchful eye on their client to ensure they attend doctor’s appointments, are taking their daily medication, and to notice when any extra care is needed. This friendship is often the encouragement individuals need to remain active and keep them from feeling isolated and alone. A minimum of 15 hours per week is required from our volunteers.
Eligible volunteers (Senior Companions) receive a tax-free stipend of $2.65/hr and are reimbursed for transportation. The money earned through volunteering as a Senior Companion is not considered income and DOES NOT affect other benefits you are entitled to (i.e. SSI, SAHA entitlements) under Section 404 of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act of 1973.
What are the requirements to receive service?
Companionship is provided to elderly individuals who may be frail, isolated, homebound, recovering from illness or surgery, and/or may receive little to no support from friends or family.
Is there a cost to be placed with a Senior Companion?
There is no charge for receiving services.
How do I refer myself (or someone) to receive services?
Referrals can be made by calling 210.599.7405, option #4 or by completing the “Refer someone for service” form linked at the top of the page.