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Summer is often thought of as a time of plenty: plenty of sunshine, plenty of fresh produce, plenty of events going on around the community.
But for Williamsburg Faith In Action — a group which offers services to seniors — summer is associated with scarcity.
“Typically, this is the time of year when our volunteers are preparing to go on vacation or are attending family events,” said Executive Director Rita Smith. “Our pool of volunteers tends to be lower in the summer months, and the service requests tend to increase.”
This annual scarcity has led the organization to put out a call for additional volunteers to pick up the slack. Faith in Action is looking for people willing to transport seniors to doctor’s appointments, grocery stores, banks, pharmacies and other places where they may otherwise be unable to reach by themselves.
The organization is currently seeing a random spike in requests for services, which further compounds the problem created by the deficit of volunteers, according to Susan Dickerson, the director of development at Williamsburg Faith in Action.
“If I could get 30 volunteers in here today, that would be amazing for us,” she said.
Williamsburg Faith in Action was founded in 2002, and since that time the organization has been dedicated to providing an array of free services to those aged 60 years or older in the community. In addition to transportation, which is the main service that volunteers are needed for this summer, they also provide respite for caregivers, yard work services and simple maintenance around the home.
“Our organization was built on the idea of people helping people,” Smith said. “If you have a few hours to dedicate to someone who may just need an arm to lean on to get to a doctor’s appointment, then we have a spot for you.”
Susan Dickerson also weighed in on the importance of allowing the seniors served by the group — many of whom are experiencing a temporary “health crisis” that may pass in a matter of weeks or months — to continue to age in their homes and live independently. According to her, the benefit to providing these kinds of services to the elderly in the community is obvious, but the benefit to the volunteers is significant as well.
“It’s a very rewarding experience on both sides. One thing we constantly hear from volunteers is that once they start volunteering they don’t want to stop. They become attached to the people they help out as they form an ongoing relationship with them.”
If you are interested in volunteering, call the Williamsburg Faith In Action offices at 258-5890, or visit its website. Due to the urgent need for volunteers, training sessions are now being offered on a flexible, as-needed basis.