Senior Companion Program
The Senior Companion Program is part of Senior Corps, a network of national service programs that provides older Americans with the opportunity to apply their life experiences to community needs.
Senior Companions serve one-on-one with the frail elderly and other homebound persons who have difficulty completing everyday tasks. They assist with grocery shopping, bill paying, and transportation to medical appointments. They also alert doctors and family members to potential problems.
In addition, Senior Companions can provide short periods of relief to primary caregivers. Because of this program, thousands of citizens are able to live with dignity in their own homes.
Please contact:Annette Richardson, Volunteer Coordinator, Senior Companion Program
The Senior Companion Program is open to healthy individuals age 55 and older with limited incomes. All applicants undergo a background check and a telephone interview, as well as pre-services and in-service training on such topics as Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, and issues related to mental health. Senior Companions serve 20 hours a week.
For their service, Senior Companions receive a $2.65 an hour (tax free) reimbursement for transportation, annual physical examinations, meals, and accident and liability insurance during service.
Volunteers contribute 13 million hours of service annually to their frail older clients. The value of this service is $151 million, and represents almost a 5-fold return on the federal dollars invested in the program.
Partners and operations
Local nonprofits and public agencies receive grants to sponsor and operate Senior Companion Program projects. Community organizations that address the health needs of older persons work with the local program projects to place and coordinate the services of volunteers.
These local partners — which include hospitals, Area Agencies on Aging, and home health groups—are called volunteer stations. The stations' professional staffs identify individuals who need assistance and work with program projects to place them with Senior Companions.
1973: The program was incorporated by Title II of the Domestic Volunteer Service Act (DVSA), and designed by that Act, along with the Foster Grandparent Program and the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. It was one of the Older American Volunteer Programs (OAVP) administered by the national volunteer agency, ACTION.
1974: 18 model Senior Companion Program projects were funded through ACTION.
1984: The program was authorized by amendments to the Domestic Volunteer Service Act to serve homebound frail older people.
1993: Older American Volunteer Programs were re-authorized as the National Senior Volunteer Corps by the National and Community Trust Act.
Current: Now known as the National Senior Service Corps, the program is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service.
- When asked why she commits so much of her time to assisting others, Senior Companion Petra Santos replies, "Because there are people who need me."
- "Being volunteers, we can help the needy people and at the same time, we can use our leisure time constructively, learn something new, make more friends, and get satisfaction. We are very happy about it." — Station Supervisor, David Ko
- "With our own heart we do that work, not because of money but because of our community's needs, and we feel helpful to serve them." — Senior Companion, Happy H. Nguyen
- "It made me feel so good. Before volunteering, I was shy and nervous. I really didn't think I was going to last that long (as a volunteer). To be a real volunteer you have to have patience, perseverance, compassion, and a sense of humor." — Senior Companion, Jack Peckham
- "When I come here to volunteer I come with an attitude of love, smiles, and jokes because that's the type of person I am. I like to be happy." — Senior Companion, Eleanor Armstrong
- All Senior Companion volunteers go through life following the words of Booker T. Washington, "If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else."