Meet our March volunteer of the month for the Council on Aging (CoA), Sally is our SHIBA Medicare Counselor extraordinaire! Recently, we sat down with Sally to find out why she chose to volunteer for the CoA.

Why did you decide to volunteer for the Council on Aging (CoA)?

Before I retired, I read about the SHIBA (Senior Health Insurance Benefits Assistance) Medicare counseling program. I knew that I wanted to be involved. I have always been able to sort through contracts and policies and simplify the information.

What about the organization drew you in?

While I came to CoA for the Medicare counseling program, I have since realized the breadth of services that CoA provides. It is truly amazing. I enjoy being able to help people and feel that I am doing something worthwhile with my retirement.

What’s it like working with your fellow volunteers?

Several fellow volunteers have been involved in the program for several years. It gives me a sense of relief to know that I can turn to them with questions or if there is a unique situation. Besides, it is fun to get to know them better when we get together as a group.

Have you made new friends?

Because we usually work individually with Medicare beneficiaries, there isn’t as much opportunity for friendship as in some other volunteer positions. Additionally, due to pandemic restrictions, most of our work was done remotely by phone these last two years.

Is the experience helping you grow as a person?

The experience has definitively helped me grow as a person. It gives me a new appreciation and empathy for people as they struggle to navigate a complex system.  

What’s the most important thing the Council on Aging volunteers can do for our seniors?

Seniors (as does everyone) need to know that there is a place they can go for help, whether for information, food, companionship, resources, etc.

Do those served appreciate what volunteers like you do?

The great majority of people we serve are very grateful. Even if we have to give them the bad news that their situation can’t be changed, they appreciate that we looked into it and tried to help. Often people can’t believe that we are volunteers and aren’t doing what we do for money.

What would you say to someone considering volunteering for the Council on Aging?

I would absolutely recommend the CoA as a place to volunteer. There is a range of opportunities. We are always met with appreciation, both from the people we serve and the staff of the CoA.

Do you wish you had been able to volunteer sooner?

Being a SHIBA counselor takes a lot of training. Doing it while working (unless it is a part of your job) wouldn’t be feasible. I wish I had started job shadowing before the pandemic so I could have met with more people face-to-face. As things open up, I’m looking forward to being able to do that.

Thank you, Sally, for making a difference in the lives of so many older adults.

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