Volunteer opportunities for seniors

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DEAR SUN SPOTS: The Opportunity Alliance has openings for foster grandparents and senior companions in Cumberland, York and Oxford counties for adults 55 and over who desire to make a difference in the lives of others while earning a little extra money. Foster grandparents mentor and support academic achievement of children in schools. Senior companions provide companionship and local transportation to elders seeking to continue living in their homes, as well as respite for their caregivers.

Volunteers who commit to a minimum of 15 hours a week and whose income is below generous income guidelines receive a tax-free stipend, mileage reimbursement and other benefits, including monthly training. To learn how you can help your community by joining either program call 773-0202 or write to [email protected]

— Susan, director, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions, Portland

ANSWER: This is a meaningful way to connect with others in your community if you live in the counties listed above. To participate in the programs, you must be age 55 and over and have an interest in meeting the critical needs of either children or seniors. Volunteers living at less than 200 percent of poverty are eligible to receive a nontaxable stipend in return for a 15- to 40-hour per week commitment. This stipend doesn’t affect income taxes, Social Security, food stamps, housing or Supplemental Security Income. Volunteers also receive mileage reimbursements or a bus pass, paid leave and paid holidays.

Through the Foster Grandparent Program, volunteers work in schools, child development centers, Head Start and homes, tutoring and mentoring children with special needs.

Senior companions assist elders in remaining independent by offering socialization and transportation to medical appointments, grocery shopping and other essential errands. They also can be called upon to provide much-needed breaks for caregivers. This is your opportunity to positively affect someone’s life.

DEAR SUN SPOTS: Regarding guitar instructors in the area (Sun Spots on Monday, Dec. 11), I also recommend Jim Gallant at The Fiddleheads Center in New Gloucester. His contact information is [email protected]

— Greg, Lewiston

ANSWER: Thank you, Greg! Keep those recommendations coming, everyone!

DEAR SUN SPOTS: I can’t find Mountain Thins in a small white pouch (milk chocolate & peanut butter). They do have M&M and pretzel flavor, but they’re not as good.

— Nancy, Lewiston

ANSWER: Your special Almond Roca brand milk chocolate and peanut butter candy is distributed by Brown & Haley and you can order it straight from them by the package at $4.99 or by the 8-pack at $26. Their website is www.brown-haley.com/collections/mountain-thins.

According to the company, they regularly distribute your Mountain Thins to Kmart and Walmart, Shaw’s and Walgreen’s, Sam’s Club and BJ’s. I don’t normally list big-box stores, but I want you to be reunited with your treat! Before you make a trip out, call and check with these retailers in your area to see if they have them on their shelves. If not, ask the nice folks in customer service if they can order them for you. I have done this in the past and have had good results.

I also wonder if you have tried barkTHINS. There is a dark chocolate and peanut butter version that is quite delicious. I usually see them near the produce department in the grocery store. Maybe because they are organic and non-GMO?

This column is for you, our readers. It is for your questions and comments. There are only two rules: You must write to the column and sign your name (we won’t use it if you ask us not to). Please include your phone number. Letters will not be returned or answered by mail, and telephone calls will not be accepted. Your letters will appear as quickly as space allows. Address them to Sun Spots, P.O. Box 4400, Lewiston, ME 04243-4400. Inquiries can also be emailed to [email protected]

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