Imagine performing life changing assistance, for just a few hours a month. Thousands of dedicated individuals do just that, as volunteers for the Massachusetts Money Management Program. Cosponsored by the AARP Foundation, Mass Home Care, and the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, the Massachusetts Money Management Program is a free service that assists low-income elders who might be at risk of losing their independence due to their inability to pay basic rent, food and utility bills on time. Volunteers help as bill payers, representative payees, and monitors.
“Since 1991, volunteers with the Massachusetts Money Management Program have helped nearly 10,000 older persons in need of assistance,” said Linda Fitzgerald, state president, AARP Massachusetts. “To our volunteers, I say: Thank you for your service, your passion, caring, and compassion. In addition to helping vulnerable seniors manage their weekly budgets and pay their bills, you are also there for those who may feel isolated and alone. You are their social connection; and that is invaluable.”
"They help protect very vulnerable people”
Peg Lyon, director of the Winthrop Housing Authority, sees the difference that Massachusetts Money Management volunteers make, firsthand. “One of our residents, a gentleman, had a hard time after his wife passed away,” she explained. “This was a man who had money, but couldn’t transfer his funds from savings to checking – he didn’t know how. So, he started bouncing checks. He ultimately lost his health insurance, and because of his advanced age, it was very difficult to get him back on a plan.
“The Massachusetts Money Management Program got him out of the spiral effect of depression and anxiety – helped him to get back on track,” Lyon continued. “These volunteers are heroes to a lot of our residents. They are advocates; they fight health insurance issues; they watch for elder abuse. They help protect very vulnerable people.”
“I am thrilled that I can help”
During a recent recognition luncheon held at the State House, we caught up with volunteers from across the commonwealth, and asked them to share their experiences with the Massachusetts Money Management Program.
Edward Warren of Dorchester was one of the very first Money Management volunteers, starting with the program when it was created 20 years ago. Still working, he helps clients a few times a month. Looking back on his years of service, he believes the relationship between volunteer and client is crucial. “Honesty and trust are the foundation. You have to be self-motivated, and you have to build trust with your clients.”
Ellen Goldstick of Winthrop decided to volunteer for the Money Management Program after her father passed away twelve years ago. She had helped her parents with bill paying and other financial planning assistance prior to their deaths. “I thought it would be a nice thing to do to honor my parents’ memory. I’ve met some wonderful people, and am thrilled that I can help. You need to be a caring person and have compassion – because often the role encompasses a lot of other things beyond just paying bills. I’ve helped clients transition to a nursing home, and I’ve also helped carry out wishes after clients have passed away.”
There’s not much Ted Stevenson of Springfield hasn’t seen during his many years as a volunteer. “Many seniors are dealing with memory failure, fraud, elder abuse, and have no one to turn to. I get a real satisfaction out of helping someone get back on track.”
Offering hope and dignity
At the State House recognition luncheon, Larry Poirier, program manager for Mystic Valley Elder Services Money Management, spoke candidly about the challenges faced by volunteers:
“Many times we are the last hope before complete financial ruin. It’s challenging, but our volunteers are there to offer hope, respect and dignity. Money Management volunteers perform miracles in very complex situations. I can’t think of a more rewarding job – to promote self-sufficiency and independent living to help keep seniors in their community for as long as possible.”
Join the more than 1200 dedicated volunteers helping seniors in need throughout the Bay State. Learn more about the Massachusetts Money Management Program, and volunteer today!
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