The Spiritual Caregiver program at Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is seeking caring volunteers to offer support for older adults facing grief, loneliness, and other spiritual challenges in a two-year volunteer experience.
“We really need people who have a desire to serve others and whose spiritual beliefs and practices have helped them endure difficult challenges of life,” said Program Coordinator Loretta Saint-Louis. “It’s a unique opportunity to grow spiritually, through the initial training, which is challenging, through experiences with the clients, and through our continuing education and supervision as a team.”
Spiritual Caregiver is an interfaith program that primarily serves homebound elders and disabled people who are not connected with any faith community. Trained volunteers meet with clients weekly for one-to-one conversation, offering compassionate support. The program draws volunteers from a wide range of spiritual orientations, including people who are spiritual, but not religious. Volunteers are nonjudgmental, refrain from proselytizing, and are open to people whose spiritualist is different from their own.
“We have been fortunate to attract a great group of volunteers for this program, but we can always use more help,” said Saint-Louis. “One area we would like to see some growth is with male and Spanish speaking volunteers—that is a real need for our program right now.”
Spiritual Caregiver Volunteers begin the program with a 50 hour training, which takes place over four to five months. The training helps to build caregiving skills and the knowledge base for the particular challenges the clients face.
Once trained, Saint-Louis matches volunteers with people seeking support for weekly home visits. Bimonthly meetings of the volunteer group at the Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services office provide ongoing support and continuing education. Because of the strong investment in training, volunteers are required to make a two year commitment to the program.
The next training class is scheduled to begin in late September. Applications are being accepted now. For more information, or to apply, contact Loretta Saint-Louis at 617-628-2601 ext. 3173 or via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Somerville-Cambridge Elder Services (SCES) is a non-profit agency that supports the independence and well-being of older people in Somerville and Cambridge. For more information, visit eldercare.org, follow us on Facebook and Twitter, or contact the SCES Aging Information Center at 617-628-2601 for free advice and guidance.