Angels on Earth: 2016 Be a Santa to a Senior

bastas2015-1Although our Minnesota weather may not admit it, it’s time to kick off the 2016 Be a Santa to a Senior® program! Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis is proud to announce we will set up trees around the Minneapolis area and ensure seniors who are alone or in need receive a gift this holiday season. As once described by a senior who has received a gift from us, the Be a Santa to a Senior® program “shows there are angels on earth!” Join us in our movement once again this year to ensure seniors feel the love and be a part of our campaign.

This program targets seniors in our community who may not otherwise receive gifts or visits from family during the holidays and was first launched by our parent organization in 2003. Partnering with local non-profit and community organizations, Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis identifies seniors who perhaps live alone, do not have family members nearby, or are experiencing financial difficulties and ensures they receive a little TLC during the holidays.

Home Instead Senior Care® network is the world’s largest provider of non-medical in-home care and companionship services for older adults. The Minneapolis, Minnesota Home Instead office has partnered with local non-profits such as East Side Neighborhood Services in Minneapolis, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly, Meals on Wheels, low income housing, and several nursing homes to offer gifts and companionship to seniors in need.

You can help us brighten a senior’s life too! Home Instead Minneapolis will set up the gift trees beginning November 14th in the local businesses and retail stores that are partnering with us. The participation of the busy retail stores allows for great visibility of the program and provides a convenient way for shoppers to be part of the gift giving during the holiday season. Here’s how it works:

Head to any of the following locations:

senior_giftsLocate the Christmas tree decorated with ornament tags within the store. Select any ornament tag where you will find a senior’s name as well as gift suggestions printed on the tag. The next steps are to purchase the item(s) listed, place them in a gift bag, return to the store where the ornament tag was selected and deliver the gift to a store employee. We would also be delighted to take any donations of money or gift cards to ensure each gift wish is filled. To ensure timely delivery of all gifts, please return donations to the store by December 12th.

Since this amazing program began in 2003, there have been over 60,000 volunteers who have helped distribute over 1.2 million gifts to more than 700,000 deserving seniors nationwide. Join our movement and make a senior’s holiday special.

Home Instead Minneapolis is thrilled to partner with several local fire stations. Relief associations, retired and off-duty firefighters from Hopkins, Golden Valley, Wayzata, Minneapolis and St. Louis Park fire stations are volunteering their time by picking up and storing the gifts. Once the gifts are all collected, they will also help deliver the gifts to the nursing homes, assisted living and senior apartment facilities in the Minneapolis, Minnesota area. THANK YOU once again to the firefighters, retired members as well as spouses and family members for being involved with our Be a Santa to a Senior® campaign! We could not pull this off without you! We appreciate your partnership and your volunteer time.

At this time of year, there are so many gift programs aimed at children and families in need, but we can’t forget the seniors! Home Instead Senior Care Minneapolis understands there are many seniors in our local communities who have just as much need for a gift and companionship during the holidays, so join us and make a difference in the life of a senior!

For more information or to find a participating organization near you, visit the Be a Santa to a Senior® website and use the locator tool provided.

How Seniors Make Volunteering Joyful and Long Lasting

senior volunteerOur parent organization, the Home Instead Senior Care® network, recently performed research on senior volunteers and found some truly interesting facts about what makes volunteering enriching and fun for people in their golden years, especially in Minneapolis.

Minnesota seniors who have learned how to give of themselves in a sustained way had some secrets to share about how to enjoy community service as long as possible. In fact 70% of the seniors surveyed said they plan to go on donating their time to special causes “forever.”

Tips from these seniors included the following:

1.  Find something to be passionate about. What have you always wanted to do? What special causes really make your heart sing? Whether it’s helping to feed the homeless at a Minneapolis shelter, being a docent, helping at a pet shelter or making baby bonnets, there is something for everyone and every passion. Finding the role that really tickles your fancy is the key to keeping it interesting.

2.  Find a cause where there is a real need. In this Minnesota economy, as you might guess, that is a very easy thing to do. Not only are there more people in need today than ever before, but non-profit and community service organizations are more taxed than ever too. The Corporation for National and Community Service conducted a survey in 2009 revealing that 80% of nonprofit and AmeriCorps organizations were feeling fiscal stress.

Some great resources exist locally and nationally to find the greatest need, including:

3.  Giggle your way out a bad day. Like any real job, volunteer roles for seniors are going to have their ups and downs, and one way to handle it is to simply laugh it off. For a quick “laugh fix,” visit CaregiverStress.comSM and “Laugh with Mary Maxwell.” Mary’s delightful perspective on life as a senior will help get rid of the bad day blues!

4.  Don’t set the bar too high. We all want things to go well, but sometimes they just don’t. Organizing events, for example, can involve many details from fliers to food, decorations, and the contributions of other volunteer seniors. Aiming for perfection can make the whole event go sour. By contrast, cheerfully taking the good with the bad and making the best of whatever challenges occur will help you and everyone around you “go with the flow.”

5. Be joyful. Just like paid work, a volunteer role may not be worth doing if there is no joy in it. Even the grittiest hands-on jobs should be things that you enjoy or even take special pride in accomplishing. Whether you’re building, baking, organizing, reading or caring for an elderly person in their home, make sure it brings you joy.

senior minneapolis6. Shrug off the critics. Volunteering takes all kinds of seniors, and some of them can take the roles and responsibilities of volunteering a touch too seriously. If faced with criticism, shrug it off – especially if it is a one time thing. The good news is that tomorrow is likely to be a better day. And if not, there are many more opportunities to explore such as caring for a person with disabilities in their home.

7. Turn the other cheek. Avoiding conflict and side-stepping turf wars has helped many a volunteer to rise above challenges that may crop up from time to time. Remember, sometimes it is best to give up ground to keep the peace, and most disagreements will simply blow over given some cooling off time.

8. Give yourself a break. Do not overdo it. The world will certainly go on if you take care of yourself and your own needs. Dedication is a wonderful thing, but the work you do in your retirement years should not drudgery, and should never supersede your own self care.

9. Ignore negativity. There is “one in every crowd,” as they say. It may be someone who looks for what’s wrong instead of what’s right, or even someone who is envious of all you accomplish. Seek out those who share your interests, have a “team” mentality, and are about the greater good.

10. Need help? Ask for it! If you are yearning to volunteer or you know a senior who is, contact Home Instead Senior Care of Minneapolis, which employs CAREGiversSM . CAREGivers can help around the house with meal preparation and light housekeeping so their clients can volunteer. What a great way to get out of the house and interact with others!

Need ideas for ways to make a difference? Here is a brief overview of the primary volunteer activities of seniors:

  • 47% volunteer with churches and religious organizations
  • 16% work in senior centers or other senior-related services
  • 10% work in hospitals or healthcare organizations
  • 10% work with schools, educational services and youth programs
  • 7% volunteer with social services and nonprofit organizations

There are as many ways to help as there are people who want to give their time. Think about volunteering in Minneapolis today. You can make a world of difference!