Villages of the Berkshires is looking to expand its team of volunteers dedicated to helping seniors still living at home.
"When we did our focus groups with people here, what we learned from then what was most important to them was transportation, pretty high on the list of needs, home repair, home assistance," said Howard Shapiro, president of Villages of the Berkshires.
The nonprofit recently received a grant to establish a new volunteer recruitment program in partnership with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Berkshire Community College.
"We really share a really strong mission of serving older adults in the Berkshires, but serving them in a way that’s inclusive and that’s actually designed by the older adult community themselves," said Megan Whilden, executive director of OLLI at Berkshire Community College.
In addition to working with OLLI’s volunteers, Shapiro says they hope to recruit students from Berkshire Community College and local high schools as a part of the new program.
"We’ll be looking at service learning programs through the curriculum of their programs, whether that be nursing, human services, technology, or whatever it might be, and then providing them opportunities to work with us," he said.
Shapiro hopes the program will bring in about 50 new volunteers and members. He says he expects the demand for aging-at-home services to significantly increase in the wake of the pandemic.
"One of the things we’ve seen during this epidemic is that it wasn’t such a good thing to be in a nursing home situation at this particular time, so there are reasons for us to really look at this and making it more available," he added.