Threading Stillwater Volunteers and Opportunities
Stillwater-based Community Thread brings household help to independently-living seniors through new program.
Vern and Edie Hophan have lived in Croixdale for a few years so they know the value of having help at their fingertips, but some seniors who chose to live independently longer occasionally need a little extra help around the house.
Enter: Community Thread.
“Sometimes the senior just need someone to change a light bulb or clean out a gutter. It’s not a huge thing that would prevent them from living alone, though,” said Community Thread President Valerie Jones.
“We have the help we need here, (at Croixdale) but if we didn’t, I know how valuable this program would be,” Edie Hophan said.
Jones and the rest of the nonprofit company brainstormed with seniors and volunteers to come up with a program to help the independent folks who could use a quick hand and created Chore Services Initiative, which debuted this month.
Another aspect of the program, which Jones said is still developing is a list of “preferred providers” for seniors whose needs may be too large or in depth for a volunteer to tackle. The list will include “senior-friendly businesses,” the president explained. That may mean discounts, payment programs for seniors, patient employees or experience working with the mature population.
At the heart of Community Thread is connecting volunteers with opportunities to help, said Lisa Thalacker Joyslin, the program director at Community Thread’s Volunteer Center.
“All of our services fall under two umbrellas: senior services and volunteer services,” Thalacker Joyslin said. “Many fall under both.”
The nonprofit organization started in 1967 in a church when some ladies saw the impact volunteering can have on the senior population and wanted to be a vehicle to connect the two. Their organization turned into Community Volunteer Service and Senior Centers and two years ago the new name and branding birthed Community Thread. The new logo is a continuous line creating a simple tree.
“We want people to see the program as one that ties the thread of the community and individuals together,” Thalacker Joyslin said.
Chore Services Initiative is just one of the programs at Community Thread. Other staples include the Volunteer Center, which connects about 2,000 volunteers with programs annually; a transportation program which helps Washington County residents get to and from medical appointments; the Neighborhood Service Exchange, where residents trade services with each other; the national Medical Reserve Corps program helping local trained volunteers respond to public health emergencies; the Holiday Bureau which helps families or organizations sponsor local families in need during the holiday seasons; and senior centers which coordinates programs and activities for seniors.
Edie Hophan said she and her husband participate a few times each week in some of the programs in the senior center. Playing in card groups, attending health and life-planning seminars and do-it-yourself lessons are some of their most-frequented choices.
“It’s a great way for us to socialize with our peers and still learn things in a non-threatening way,” she explained.
Community Thread organizes a few large-scale volunteer opportunities as their own organization each year including Rake a Difference Day in the fall, Spring into Service each spring and a volunteer expo set for Sept. 27 so local volunteers can connect with opportunities.