Senior Companions Program
Helping Adults Remain Independent
The Senior Companions Program is part of AmeriCorps Seniors, 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 Senior Companions Program began its life in 1968 as part of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and Administration on Aging. In March 1973, Congress was asked to expand the role of low-income older volunteers who provide person-to-person services. Seven months later, the Senior Companions Program was signed into law.
Volunteers are adults, 55 years or older, low income, meet income eligibility (200% below poverty guideline) and, on average, volunteer 20 hours per week with 1 to 2 clients. Eligible Senior Companions volunteers receive a modest tax free-stipend to cover the cost of serving. They must successfully pass fingerprint-based criminal background checks.
- Pre-service and monthly training sessions
- Limited reimbursement for transportation and meals
- Paid vacation and sick days
- Nine paid holidays
- Recognition at three special events Accident and liability insurance while on duty
- Tax-free stipend of $3.00 per hour
Our active Senior Companions report a feeling of self-worth and stated that the No. 1 benefit is the feeling of satisfaction they receive from helping others.
Well-Trained and Responsive
Senior Companions volunteers receive extensive training and attend an orientation before they’re placed with a Station. Volunteers are paid a stipend while attending the training sessions. There is a mandatory four hour monthly In-Service Training, provided by the project director, to give support, education, and information on issues facing the aging population in the community.
Once Senior Companions volunteers are trained, they are placed with non-profit community agencies and organizations that have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Senior Companions project director and serve as a Station. The Station appoints a Station representative that will provide additional training, placement, and supervision. Due to the limited number of Senior Companions volunteers, the Station representative places the volunteers with their most at-risk clients, taking into consideration the satisfaction of the volunteer.
Good Idea...Great Investment
Senior Companions volunteers often make the difference between living at home and being placed prematurely in a nursing home. The average annual cost of a nursing home is $80,000 compared to placing a Senior Companions volunteer in one’s home at a cost of $6,500 per year; this translates into major health care savings for senior adults, families and community taxpayers.
In 2010, Senior Companions volunteers helped over 18,000 older adults maintain their independence in Texas . There is never a charge to the client or family member for a Senior Companions volunteer. There are only 52 federally-funded and one state-funded Senior Companions volunteer for the Houston Harris County areas. With the generous support of the Isla Carroll Turner Friendship Trust, and other community grantors, additional volunteers are funded.
You can make a difference by making a tax exempt donation to this unique program. Your dollars will go to the direct expense of the Senior Companions volunteer. Please mail your tax exempt donation, payable to the Senior Companions Program, and addressed to: Evelyn Rubenstein JCC/Senior Companions Program, 5601 South Braeswood, Houston, TX 77096 .