MNRAAA Volunteers: The Ripple Effect of Outreach

Sarah Reiman, LSW, Volunteer Coordinator

“Just as ripples spread out when a single pebble is dropped into water, the actions of individuals can have far-reaching effects.” ~ Dalai Lama

Recently, one of our staff had the pleasure of receiving a message from a VERY satisfied consumer who had just learned she received a $6,000 grant to pay for one of her medications. This is after she had also found out a month earlier that she qualified to get one of her expensive medications for free from a patient assistance program. She was elated! This type of news is always so exciting for staff and volunteers at the Senior LinkAge Line®. It is helpful to be reminded that our efforts can be life changing! So, you might be asking yourself, “how did this happen?”. Sometimes it is the ripple effect of one simple action that leads to positively changing a person’s life! So, the story goes…

One of our amazing volunteers was assigned to complete a dining site assessment at a senior center in a small town in southwest Minnesota. She was impressed by the senior center coordinator, who was enthusiastic and determined to create an environment in which the seniors in the community could socialize and be connected to the resources available to them.

The volunteer returned from her dining site assessment and sent an email to the Senior LinkAge Line® outreach staff in that community encouraging her to reach out to the senior center coordinator. This connection led to several outreach events being conducted at the dining site, including a Medicare Open Enrollment site this past fall.

The consumer had been using up her small savings account and stressing about affording her medications when she met with one of the Senior LinkAge Line® staff at the Medicare Open Enrollment site and voiced distress at her high medication costs. Unfortunately, she was $85.00 above the income guideline for the Extra Help Program (a program through Social Security that would have significantly reduced her out-of-pocket costs). The staff person assisted the consumer with an application for a patient assistance program to pay for one expensive medication and another application for a foundation to help with the costs of a second medication. This assistance reduced her out-of-pocket costs from over $6,000 a year to nearly nothing.

Senior Outreach Specialist, Bridget Schwebach, said: “This just goes to show how VERY valuable the work Senior LinkAge Line® volunteers do can be for seniors in their communities! Even if they are not the ones that directly provide the assistance that ends in an outcome like this one….it is the work they do every day by telling people about the Senior LinkAge Line® that leads to a result like what happened here!”

To learn more about volunteer opportunities, and to add your pebble to the ripple effect of serving older adults and caregivers in your community, contact Sarah Reiman, Volunteer Coordinator, at 1-800-333-2433 x82026 or sreiman@mnraaa.org.

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