Where we’ve been

April and May have been busy months here at AHH! We’ve had a lot of exciting events going on that we want to share.

On April 19, in honor of National Volunteer Week, we hosted an appreciation event at Beer Study in Durham. Our volunteers enjoyed drinks, barbecue, and unlimited arcade games! Skee ball turned out to be a big hit. This was just a small way to say thank you to our many dedicated volunteers who donate their time every week to improve the lives of seniors and adults with disabilities.

 

At the end of April, we said goodbye to our spring interns. We celebrated the conclusion of their internship by hosting them and each of their clients at a gathering of food and fun. The clients had a chance to express their gratitude for the wonderful interns they worked with.

May was Older Americans Month! We celebrated by posting a new client photo or story on our Instagram page each day of the month. We were excited to share the stories of some of our amazing clients. Make sure you check out our page, if you haven’t already.

In mid-May, our local universities wrapped up, and many of our companions and volunteers graduated. We’re sad to see them go, but we know they’ll go on to great things. As a result of their experience working with AHH clients, we know they’ll enter their careers as empathetic, person-centered health professionals, with an awareness of the issues that affect older adults and individuals with disabilities.

Finally, at the end of May, we welcomed our summer interns. This summer we have the largest group of interns we’ve ever had – 15 interns, serving more than 40 clients!



Internships inspire careers in geriatrics

Yasmin came to A Helping Hand as an intern in the fall of 2016. At the time, she wanted to go to medical school, but didn’t know what specialty she wanted to pursue. She didn’t have much experience working with older adults, but was interested in learning more about geriatrics and elder care. “[The internship] helped me realized the health disparities that exist among older populations, and how this is a growing problem as the baby boomer generation ages that not many people are talking about,” she said. The firsthand experience she gained working with AHH clients pushed her to consider a new career path. Instead of medical school, she is now pursuing a master’s in public health, in a program specializing in health of an aging society.

After finishing her internship with AHH, Yasmin continued to be involved with older adults in the community. She continued to work at Charles House, one of the sites where she volunteered as an intern. She also got involved with the Orange County Department on Aging’s Caregiver Respite program. She’s continued to volunteer her time with A Helping Hand, serving on our holiday committee that organizes and distributes gifts to charitable program clients. She’s worked with Amanda Borer, the associate director of Charles House, on starting an NC branch of the Eldercare Workforce Alliance, a national organization committed to addressing the current and future workforce crisis in caring for an aging population. As part of the Gillings Student Interest Group on Aging, she is helping plan their annual aging conference.

Yasmin clearly has a passion for helping older adults and bringing awareness to the public health issues, and it all started with the AHH internship program! Typically our interns come to us with limited experience working with older adults and adults with disabilities. However, their experience with us often ignites an interest in continuing to work with this group. One of the aspects of the program that we’re proudest of is being able to inspire young people to pursue geriatrics-related fields.

Yasmin, we appreciate your continued advocacy and work on behalf of older adults in the community!



Back in action

As a new school semester dawned this past January, three of our former summer interns returned to A Helping Hand as volunteers. These three students had enjoyed their time as interns, but their schedules hadn’t allowed them to continue volunteering after their internships came to an end. Now that it’s a new semester and their schedules have opened up, they were inspired to get back involved with the volunteer program! Read more



Maybe a senior, but always a sister

Today we have a guest post from Mallory, one of our volunteers, who shared a special experience with her client Ms. H.

I thought it would be a great idea to bring Ms. H to lunch at my sorority house when she told me that she was previously a sorority house mom for another sorority at UNC and she loved all of the girls and felt like they kept her young. I figured my sorority house would be very similar to the one she lived in for 7 years, so I asked her if she would like to come. She was SO excited that I asked her and said she couldn’t wait. We planned this two weeks ago and when I got to her house to pick her up today, she was dressed and ready and couldn’t wait to get in the car to go.

My experience was, in one word, rewarding. Read more



Denise serves clients and companions with compassion

When potential clients and companions find out about A Helping Hand, the first person they meet is Denise. Denise Matthewson is our director of client services, which means she helps all of our new clients and companions through the onboarding process.

For clients, this process typically starts with a phone call from a potential client or a family member. Denise describes the type of services AHH can provide, and learns about the client’s particular needs. Then, she visits the client at home, to assess their needs more clearly and go through the enrollment paperwork. Back at the office, she shares information about the client with Rebecca, who manages and schedules the companions, so we can make a perfect client-companion match!

Denise also manages the hiring process for our new companions. She meets each applicant and completes a thorough interview, to determine if their skills match up with our clients’ needs. Read more



It takes a village

Two weeks ago, our new group of spring interns kicked off their internship with a day of orientation. Through this process, they learned the ins and outs of being companion. They discussed their perceptions of older adults, participated in a sensitivity training to simulate some of the physical impairments our clients experience, practiced using mobility devices such as walkers and wheelchairs, learned about managing difficult behaviors associated with dementia, and heard from an A Helping Hand client about her experiences with companions.

In addition to their initial orientation, interns continue to learn throughout the semester through various events in the community, as well as team meetings put together by AHH. To make all of these informative trainings happen, we have a great team of people who volunteer their time to teach our interns how to work with older adults! Read more



2017 Volunteer of the Year!

Our volunteer of the year is….

 

Kayla Chee!

Be sure to check out the video to find out why Kayla is such an incredible volunteer! Thank you, Kayla, for everything you do.



A very happy holiday

We thought Thanksgiving ended a month ago, but since we’ve came back to the office after the holiday break, we’ve been flooded with messages of gratitude. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” said Ms. H. Ms. L called to say, “Thank you for your Christmas gift. It just lifted me up. I was down and this just lifted my spirits.” Mr. B echoed the sentiment, saying that his gift “brightened up my otherwise gloomy life right now.”

For the past several months, the AHH holiday committee has been hard at work organizing holiday gifts for the clients in our charitable and subsidized programs. For many of these clients, a gift from A Helping Hand is the only gift they receive during the holiday season. Funds provided by the Oak Grove Ruritan Club, Activate Good, and individual contributors were used to buy gift cards, and Read more



The heroes of winter break

College students make up a significant portion of our volunteer base. We love their energy, and their schedules usually match up well with the times that clients need help the most. However, during the holidays and other school breaks when students leave town en masse, we typically have to turn down requests from clients because we don’t have enough volunteers available. This year, our volunteer base has grown, and we have several locally-based volunteers who unfailingly donate their time, no matter the season. Their dependability is getting A Helping Hand clients through the holidays! Read more



Holiday events at AHH

We’ve had a busy few weeks here at A Helping Hand! Along with our Giving Tuesday fundraiser, we’ve been a part of two great events in the run up to the holidays.

The Great Thanksgiving Listen

On November 17, Activate Good gathered a group of volunteers to participate in The Great Thanksgiving Listen, a national project organized by Story Corps. A Helping Hand and several other local organizations arranged for seniors to come and be interviewed for the national archives. The volunteers used the Story Corps app to record each interview, and the interviews are published and collected here. Please take a listen – our clients have fascinating stories! Read more