The Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan Announces 2022 Make a Difference Grantees

Organizations addressing emerging social and emotional needs of senior citizens receive funding

MONTGOMERY, NY (January 2, 2023) – The Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan (CFOS) has announced the recipients of its 2022 Make a Difference grants. The Make a Difference Fund was established by the leadership of the Community Foundation of Orange and Sullivan in 2003 to meet emerging needs in the areas in which it serves.

This year, grants totaling $10,500 are being distributed to five nonprofit organizations that provide programs and services addressing emerging social and emotional needs of senior residents and their caregivers in Orange and Sullivan counties.

“Senior citizens have long been an underserved population, and the pandemic intensified the social isolation experienced by many people in this vulnerable age group,” said Elizabeth Rowley, CFOS President and CEO. “Our distribution committee agreed it was timely to focus this year’s grants on nonprofits addressing seniors’ unique needs.”

Among the grantees was Jewish Family Service of Orange County (JFS). The JFS Safety Net Program provides friendly visitor support throughout Orange County by trained volunteers to neighbors over 60 years of age. Organizers say volunteers enjoy helping their neighbors remain independent with a little extra help.  

“Loneliness and declining mobility rob our senior neighbors of their dignity and independence,” said JFS Board President Janet Davis. “JFS Safety Net services help them feel supported, connected, and valued. Our new collaboration with the Community Foundation will open our doors to more of the underserved groups we have been striving to reach.”

The full list of 2022 Make a Difference grantees follows: 

The Pine Bush Area Public Library
Project: The Happier, Healthier You series
$500 grant

The Pine Bush Area Public Library serves as a facility not only for borrowing books, etc., but also provide various other services through their Community Room, geared to Seniors. The Happier, Healthier You program teaches seniors good sleep habits, laughter, healthy thinking, and healthy eating so they can build a strong immune system, help to age gracefully, age-proof a senior’s brain and even how to become their own best friend. The program is presented by an 83-year-old young woman who has a Doctorate in Health and Wellness for older adults.  She is a Health Coach and a Motivational speaker. She brings to the senior population of our library, topics that concern them – Illnesses, Aging, Nutrition, discussions of social issues, sleeping, etc.

Liberty NY Rotary Club Foundation, Inc.
Project: Community Friends: Engaging Seniors
$4,000 grant

Community Friends engages seniors, lessens social isolation, and provides a sense of involvement with the community beyond their home or residence with the arrival of a personalized note and small gift monthly. This project focuses on engagement with seniors in the Liberty area who are homebound as identified by the office for the aging and in local nursing homes.

Jewish Family Service of Orange County NY
Project:  Safety Net
$2,000 grant

The Friendly Visitor Program is the heart of our Safety Net Program and the signature service of our agency.  The goals of the Friendly Visitor Program are to support frail seniors age 60+ and adults with disabilities to live independently, with dignity, and a good quality of life. The main objectives are to help those in need of care (and their caregivers) to develop a service plan that fosters independence, to assist with activities of daily living and to provide opportunities for social stimulation and community inclusion. The Friendly Visitor Program also seeks to reduce stress experienced by caregivers, many of whom are seniors themselves, by offering wellness checks on their loved ones and relief from overwhelming caregiving duties.

Friendly Visitor services are provided by volunteers, without cost to the recipient. Concrete services include grocery shopping, escorted rides, chores, minor home repairs and emergency food delivery. Services to support emotional health include weekly visits and telephone wellness checks.

To provide these services, JFS has developed a model that has allowed us to recruit and train 250 volunteers who assist over 500 clients annually. JFS has an ongoing and robust volunteer recruitment program, with bi-weekly virtual training sessions.

Town of Montgomery
Project: Seniors Independence Project (TOMSIP)
$2,000 grant

For over fifteen years, TOMSIP has paired volunteers with seniors to help them remain living in their homes rather than having to relocate in institutional settings. Volunteers perform services such as giving rides for medical appointments and food shopping and help in their homes such as snow shoveling and keeping in touch with our Town’s seniors who we call “Neighbors”.  Phone calls and visits are part of the program.  We are often told that they would not have been able to stay in their homes as they wished if not for TOMSIP. Many other local municipalities have mirrored our methods after seeing our success which is gratifying to see the spread of helping seniors beyond our Town boarders.  Especially as a result of the pandemic, we have lost many volunteers and need to take much more recruiting action such as events and ads so that we can serve those seniors in need. We serve approximately 100 seniors in multiple ways each year.  In addition, many isolated seniors who desperately need these free services are not aware of or are reluctant to contact us. We need to create programs to vastly enhance outreach so our seniors can receive the help they need.

Association for the Visually Impaired
Project: AVI Senior Support Program
$2,000 grant

This program will provide social and emotional support for seniors who are blind or visually impaired by conducting wellness check-ins – both in person and by telephone — and offering support groups that connect them not only with a social worker, but with one another. This will reduce social isolation and related emotional concerns such as depression and anxiety. Social connection improves quality of life.

In addition, this program will provide low vision tools such as a CCTV, better lighting, and magnification tools that will directly improve quality of life. AVI finds that many seniors do not have caregivers that are able to assist with activities such as paying bills or reading their mail. A CCTV, better lighting, and magnification tools would enable these seniors to be more independent by allowing them to pay their own bills and read their own mail.

JFS Volunteer Appreciation 11.2022-3 : L to R – Volunteer Anita Manley, Neighbor Loretta Freitas, Volunteer Cheryl Fischer