LifeWise StL is the sponsor agency for the Senior Companion Program in the St. Louis region. This program is part of AmeriCorps Seniors, the national volunteer organization. Its mission is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.
The Senior Companion Program provides meaningful volunteer opportunities to individuals age 55 years or older. Through home and community visits, Senior Companion volunteers help isolated and frail older adults maintain the highest possible level of independent living. Companions can provide short periods of relief (respite) to family caregivers, enabling them to take a break or run errands. This program keeps many older adults out of institutions and in touch with their community.
Qualified Senior Companion volunteers receive a non-taxable hourly stipend and mileage reimbursement, which enables them to volunteer at no out-of-pocket expense. After a thorough background check, volunteers receive 20 hours of training prior to their first assignment and additional monthly training. Medical or technical skills are not required.
The program is designed to be a positive experience for both volunteers and clients with a focus on the volunteer, as they provide service to clients in the community. A recent study by AmeriCorps Seniors found that 84% of AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers reported improvements in health and wellbeing after just 1 year of service. Clients can be of any socioeconomic background. There is no cost to receive this service, although donations are accepted and greatly appreciated. The program is funded through grants and donations.