After she retired, Connie Peters enjoyed life at a new pace with the freedom she had to try new activities, but it wasn't long before she started wanting more responsibility again.
Then she remembered listening to a presentation about Senior Companions of South Dakota.
The program connects volunteers 55 and older to seniors in need of companionship and assistance in over 50 communities across South Dakota. Senior Companions also provides mileage reimbursement along with a small stipend.
Become a Senior Companion
Make a difference in the life of a senior
Connie started by visiting four seniors and now visits six every week. Each visit for Connie looks a little bit different, but it often starts with a phone call the night before to confirm any appointments the next day or to ask if there’s anything special they’d like to do.
“If we don’t have anything planned, I take them to visit and look around the gardens and Falls Park,” she says. “They enjoy sitting in these areas.”
For Sandie Boucher, Connie's visits initially were a way for Sandy to run errands and take a break from her role as the primary caregiver for her husband, George.
Their trips started to change once George moved to Good Samaritan Society – Sioux Falls Center and their needs evolved. Now their routine includes visiting George, attending doctors' appointments and going to the store.
When Sandie started losing her vision, due to diabetes, Connie also became “my eyes and my advisor,” she says.
I’ve always called her my guardian angel. If we go to the store, she’s right there with me and carries the groceries out, and when she drops me off at the door, she’s very observant and protective.” – Sandie Boucher, Good Samaritan Society – Creekside Apartments resident
Having a Senior Companion has also given Sandie more freedom.
“Once you can’t drive any more you're stuck," she says. "But this way I don’t have to ask friends because Connie's available. And if I have something important that needs to be read, she’s there for me.”
Connie is always thinking of the health and well-being of the people she visits. She sets up appointments and, if they request it, will also sit in on clients' doctor visits.
That’s where I come in. I hold their hand if need be and will go into their appointments if that’s what they want, especially if they don’t have family members that live close by.” – Connie Peters, Senior Companion
As she looks back on the four years that she has volunteered with Senior Companions, Connie feels a sense of satisfaction when she thinks about the difference she's made in each senior's life.
“Volunteering may be outside of your comfort zone, but you adjust to it,” she says. “And it gives a person more of a compassionate attitude to everyone.”
Volunteering provides a new (or renewed) sense of calling
The joy we experience fills us with a purpose to serve