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A New Career, A Chance to Make a Difference: JFS Seeks Senior Companion Trainees for January 30-31

Companionship at any is age is precious, but it is life-changing for a group participating in the Senior Companions program through Ruth & Normal Rales Jewish Family Services (JFS). The rewarding program trains and employs adults as companions for seniors in need of some daily living assistance. With the increased need for Senior Companions in Palm Beach County, JFS is looking to add additional qualified caregivers to its ranks. To keep up with popular demand, they are accepting resumes and offering training sessions for potential Senior Companions scheduled in Delray Beach from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm on January 30-31, 2014. This is a wonderful opportunity for those seeking a rewarding new career.

Whether providing a ride to the store, or a nutritious lunch, or simply enjoying a game of cards, the Senior Companions are literally making someone’s day with each visit – while helping enable seniors to age comfortably in their own homes. Like any good matchmaking effort, the clients and the senior citizens with whom they are paired mutually appreciate the successful senior companion relationships. The initial two-day training class teaches the skills they need for success as companions with a variety of seniors including those who may have dementia.

The relationship between the companions and clients can be truly heartwarming. Delray Beach client Stasia Schwarz feels a real connection with her Senior Companion, “This program is wonderful and my companion Diana is so helpful; she can’t be beat. We have a very good relationship and I look forward to seeing her every week.”

As beneficial as the Senior Companions Program is for the recipient seniors, it provides a new career for the companions who are seeking to re-enter the local workforce. And the need is there, evidenced by the program’s 10% growth in the number of clients just since the past summer.

The program originated with a grant from the Palm Beach County Workforce Alliance with the goal of training and matching responsible individuals over age 55 to provide companionship and assistance with daily tasks, transportation to appointments and shopping, nutritious meal preparation, advocacy in healthcare settings, respite for caregivers, daily activities such as walks and social activities, and more. Now in its second year, the importance of the senior relationships has improved the quality of life for many people. The new “class” is open to adults of all ages, with training for those ages 55 and over supported by a grant from Retirement Research Foundation.

For New Yorker Leonard Rand, the Senior Companions offer a way to resume his social life with the added bonus of camaraderie, “This is my first year down in Florida without my car. The program is great for seniors. Without my companions, I would never get out. I go shopping, out to eat, and to the Yiddish Club at the Weisman Delray Community Center. This is working out very well.”

While offering new and rewarding work in caring companionship for seniors, the relationships and the value for the clients are truly priceless. Indeed, the JFS Senior Companion Program is a win-win for all.

For information on becoming a Senior Companion, and about the January 30-31 training session, please contact Marissa Gordon, MPA, Senior Companion Program Coordinator, at marissag@ruthralesjfs.org or 561-558-2163.

Ruth Rales Jewish Family Service (JFS) offers help, hope and humanity through a comprehensive range of programs and services which support people of all ages and beliefs. With locations in Boca Raton and Delray Beach, JFS programs and services include food and financial assistance, senior services, counseling and mental health services and many volunteer opportunities. Funding is provided by private and corporate support, grants, special events and individuals who reach thousands in need each year. For more information, contact (561) 852-3333 or visit www.ruthralesjfs.org.

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