Senior Companions: Making A Difference by Giving Independence

C+C Apartment Management, in partnership with Henry Street Settlement, offers the Senior Companion Program to residents at Saratoga Square located in Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn. The program pairs companions (who are at least 55 years of age) with older adults that have difficulty performing daily tasks. All qualified volunteers complete a training course and serve 15 to 40 hours a week.

For most elders, the Senior Companion Program makes the difference between being homebound and having independence.  This is true for Herman Calhoun, a 90-year-old resident at the Saratoga Square senior facility. In addition to living alone, Mr. Calhoun has mobile limitations so joining the program was a necessity.

Elsa Reed, who also lives at the facility, was assigned as Mr. Calhoun’s companion two years ago. She is a retired home attendant who has always enjoyed helping others. Four to five days a week she visits his home and will escort him to doctor appointments, run errands, prepare light meals or provide other assistance as needed. In the warmer months, they sometimes go outside to sit in a nearby park.

When talking to Mr. Calhoun about his experience in the program, it is apparent the best part of having a companion is Elsa’s friendship.  He genuinely enjoys her company and smiles when speaking of how well they get along.  Both agree their favorite activity is watching television together; especially the classic western shows Bonanza and Gunsmoke. Ms. Reed also takes delight in spending quality time with him each day. “We sit down, we talk, we laugh and have a good time!” says Elsa.

The positive impact of the Senior Companion Program on the lives of its participants is immeasurable.  Not only is it rewarding, but it allows volunteers to give back to their community and serve seniors in need while cultivating relationships.  The Henry Street Settlement sponsored program supports the five boroughs of New York City and is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service.

Learn more about the Senior Companion Program here.

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