By Skyler Huff
Programs focused on providing care to senior citizens of Boone County are a major part of service learning at MU. Boone County Council on Aging and Adult Day Connection are two area programs that care for seniors and involve MU student volunteers.
The senior citizen community is one of four main emphasis areas of service learning at Mizzou, according to Director of Service Learning Anne-Marie Foley.
Boone County Council on Aging was established in 1973 by a group of citizens who felt it was important to identify and address the unmet needs of older adults.
“It’s an agency that helps the elderly in their stages of life when they can’t go to a nursing home,” says Alisa Funk, service learning volunteer. “It gives them people who can go and clean for them, visit them and make them feel appreciated and happy.”
The mission of the Boone County Council on Aging is to provide an array of services that improve the lives of people age 55 and older. Services include information and referral, volunteer services and case management.
“I think that seniors are sometimes a forgotten about population,” says Madeline Canty, service learning volunteer. “After seniors retire, they don’t have any income anymore. It’s really important that they get services because they’ve served all of us for so many years, and worked in our communities, and I think that it’s really important that someone works for them.”
The Adult Day Connection (ADC) is a state-licensed adult day health care program that provides a supportive environment for adults who have experienced physical or cognitive changes.
“They can come and get nutritional meals, exercise and interact with their peers while their caretakers and loved ones have an opportunity to get things done and go on with their daily lives while they know that their loved ones are being cared for,” says Natalie Widaman, a volunteer with ADC.
The program can delay entry into long-term care facilities and provides companionship to seniors who may not always get one-on-one attention.
“I feel like they look forward to me coming back,” says Clarice Fairchild, a service learning volunteer. “They always greet me with a smile and they ask about my day and what I’m doing afterwards, and I get to ask about theirs. We have just general conversation that feels like we are just really good friends.”