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AmeriCorps Seniors Friendly Visitors

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Senior Support Services

Meals on Wheels South Texas has expanded their service area to serve those 55 and older. We will provide companionship, food and nutrition services, respite services, and medical transportation. By targeting these areas, we hope to help our beneficiaries live independent lives.

We want to activate volunteers in each county we serve, encouraging a sense of community and utilizing local resources, knowledge, and relationships. With your help, we can fight social isolation in our communities.

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Your Role as a Senior Demonstration Program Volunteer

South Texas older adults experience high rates of social isolation, food insecurity, limited medical access, and caregiver burnout. Meals on Wheels South Texas plans to connect volunteers and beneficiaries to services that address these problems.

  • Volunteers providing companionship will be responsible for socialization and increased access to the beneficiary’s community events and resources.
  • Volunteers offering food and nutrition support will assist with transportation to and from the grocery store, shopping assistance, and home-cooked healthy meals.
  • Volunteers in respite services will help relieve caregiver burnout, increasing social support for both the caregiver and beneficiary.
  • Volunteers helping with out-of-town medical transportation will provide assistance to an underserved (and sometimes ineligible service by insurance coverage) area.

By volunteering, we not only affirm to ourselves that we bring value into the world, but we create connections and provide meaningful experiences to those being serviced. You can work to help alleviate, and even prevent, the physical and mental health risks linked to loneliness and social isolation among the seniors in your community. Not only will you get to know your community better, but you will also improve the lives of your beneficiaries, their family, and their caregivers. Your service is essential to our community.

How do you become a volunteer?

First, fill out the application form or get in touch with the Project Coordinator at or by calling 361-576-2189 ext. 118.

As an SDP volunteer, you will develop a friendship with your beneficiary. Our beneficiary’s safety is a top priority and because of this, our volunteers must complete a National Service Criminal History Check. Additionally, our offered benefits are only for income-eligible applicants.

Pre-service requirements include:

  • Be 55 or older
  • Ability to serve 5-40 hours per week
  • An interview to learn more about you
  • A National Service Criminal History Check that consists of checking the National Public Sex Offenders Registry, a state of residence and state of service criminal history check, and a fingerprint-based FBI check
  • An income review to ensure you qualify to receive a stipend
  • 20 hours of pre-service orientation

Once you have completed these steps, you will receive your first assignment as a certified Senior Support Services Volunteer. You will then be matched with a beneficiary who has similar interests and availability. You will receive an Assignment Plan that serves as a “job description”, detailing approved activities, the anticipated outcomes resulting from your service, scheduled hours, and any other necessary information you may need to know about your beneficiary. Special consideration will be given to volunteers and beneficiaries with disabilities when creating assignments.

What are the benefits?

As a certified Senior Support Services Volunteer, you will receive the following benefits.

  • Meaningful relationships with people in your community
  • A sense of value by providing service to those in need
  • Annual recognition event
  • Time and mileage reimbursements
  • Secondary insurance coverage
  • Branded clothing
  • In-service training to better equip your skills as a volunteer

Being a Volunteer

Once you are a volunteer, there are a few on-going requirements to remain in the program.

On-going requirements include:

  • Tracking your time and mileage
  • Completing an annual income review to ensure you still qualify to receive the stipend
  • Completing an annual performance evaluation
  • Participating in the required surveys
  • Completing the required hours of annual in-service training
What Do You Do as a Volunteer?

As a volunteer, you will follow the approved assignments, however you may suggest new activities to do with your beneficiary to SDP staff. The following list of activities is not comprehensive, but it gives you an idea of what is allowed and not allowed:
Appropriate Activities

  • Groom (brushing/doing hair, painting fingernails)
  • Provide companionship by talking, listening, spending quality time together, etc.
  • Attend a local event together in the community
  • Decorate or do an activity for the season/holiday (NOTE: please respect beneficiary’s beliefs, celebrated holidays, etc.)
  • Plan social activities that the beneficiary can enjoy with the volunteer or with their family (free art exhibit, local farmers market, the park, tour historic sites, the public library, local festivals/parades, window-shopping, cook a new recipe)
  • Put together a scrapbook
  • Listen to/watch beneficiary’s favorite entertainment media (tv, movies, music, radio shows, podcasts, audiobooks, etc.)
  • Read to beneficiary
  • Contact/visit beneficiary’s friends
  • Promote beneficiary contact with family and friends.
  • Provide peer or grief support
  • Write letters, sort mail
  • Do arts, crafts, and games that the beneficiary can safely participate in
  • Dance, meditate, sing, garden, as long as the beneficiary can safely participate
  • Prepare light meals, plan meals, do light grocery shopping, label and organize food for the beneficiary
  • Provide health or nutrition information tailored to beneficiary needs (NOTE: beneficiary should consult their doctor/nutritionist before making significant dietary changes)
  • Remind beneficiary to take medication. Do not administer medication.
  • Make occasional appointments (medical, handyman services, family visits, etc.) (NOTE: beneficiary must be present while you make the appointment)
  • Light retail shopping and simple errands.
  • Light housework for the beneficiary.  
  • (NOTE:  Light housekeeping is defined as minor dusting/wiping down of furniture, countertops, and floors (not mopping unless to mop up a spill that presents a safety hazard,) washing dishes, loading washer and dryer (if facilities are available in the beneficiary’s residence), disposing of trash, and making the beneficiary’s bed, as able.
  • Light pet care (refilling food and water bowl, cleaning litterbox, if able)
  • Basic tech services (sending a photo/text/email, adjusting basic phone settings)
  • Take walks with the beneficiary and provide information on exercise or recreation. (NOTE: beneficiary must consult their doctor first about safe exercise practices)
  • Provide information about community services and eligibility guidelines. Helping beneficiaries receive information on a needed service (i.e., Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Supplemental Security Income (SSI), Medicaid, Medicare, etc.

Please bring unmet needs to the attention of MOWSTx staff.

Inappropriate Activities

  • Bathing beneficiaries (including sponge baths).
  • Changing disposable briefs, undergarments, or pads.
  • Depositing cash in banks or handling beneficiary money except as when making small purchases at the beneficiary’s direction.
  • Borrowing money from a beneficiary or beneficiary’s family.
  • Loaning money to a beneficiary.
  • Preparing food or cleaning for persons other than the beneficiary.
  • Administering medication or personally handling medication. (NOTE: This may be performed only by the beneficiary, the beneficiary’s family, or a licensed professional.) You are permitted to remind the beneficiary to take their medication.
  • Extensive shopping.
  • Major house cleaning (vacuuming, mopping, getting on ladders to dust). Moving furniture or heavy boxes.
  • Starting a beneficiary on an exercise routine without doctor’s instruction or family knowledge.
  • Providing babysitting services for family members.
  • Doing major household repairs or yardwork.

Volunteers who engage in inappropriate activities may be subject to corrective action or dismissal from the program.