S.O.S. Spells Serving Our Seniors

Three years ago, parishioners Sal Altomare and Bill Molyneaux had an inkling that the senior population at Our Lady of Joy in Plum, Pa., was in need of some TLC. Following that hunch, they created the Serving Our Seniors (SOS) ministry.

First, the men generated a survey to identify the wants and needs of seniors. From their responses, Altomare created six service categories: senior, caregiver/health, legal support/advice, social, seminar/information sessions, and home and safety.

Next, they set out to fulfill those needs by recruiting volunteers from the church, which has a membership of 4,000. The number of volunteers who came forward was astounding. Attorneys, nurses and other health-care workers, ranging in age from 40 to 80, were all eager to help.

“They’re acting, more or less, as a concierge service to offer direction to seniors on where to go for their issue at hand,” he says.

The survey found that, in general, women primarily craved information while men desired social outings. Women wanted to learn about estate planning, identity theft and caregiver respite. Men wanted to play cards, have lunch and connect with others, especially during holidays.

The SOS ministry started as a grassroots effort to help the parishioners of Our Lady of Joy, but Altomare says that if it continues to move in a positive direction, they may later expand beyond their parish.

“God’s providence is what got us here,” says Altomare. “I hope other congregations will take what we’ve done, tweak it to meet their own needs, and run with it.”

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