PARIS – Senior Companions in Oxford and Androscoggin counties filled more than 20 gift bags with items for the homebound clients that they visit.

This is the fourth year the companions have purchased and made gifts for their clients. Some items are practical, such as notecards, pens, tissues, hats and slippers, and some items are just for fun like sugar-free candy, puzzles, word jumble books and bubble blowing kits. All the items were wrapped and put in holiday bags.

Connie, a Senior Companion in the Lewiston-Auburn area, said, “One of my clients would have no Christmas at all if it weren’t for the bag I delivered.”

June, a Senior Companion in South Paris-Norway area, said, “One of my clients is a diabetic and she enjoys receiving the sugar-free candy.” Another companion has a client that opens one package a day to make them last longer.

Senior Companions spend 15 to 20 hours a week doing friendly visiting with homebound elderly clients. They provide companionship by sharing lunch, reading, writing letters, reminiscing and being a friend. They might help with grocery shopping, filling out forms, sorting mail and any number of things that will help the client to remain independent and in their home.

Comments from Senior Companions include: “It gives me a reason to get up in the morning.” “It’s nice to be needed.” “I know I am making a difference in someone’s life.” “I meet so many nice people.” “It gives me a little extra money that I otherwise wouldn’t have.”

The program has been sponsored by the University of Maine Cooperative Extension for more than 20 years. In Oxford and Androscoggin counties Cooperative Extension has partnered with Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice for 11 years.

Nancy Greene, volunteer coordinator with Androscoggin Home Care and Hospice, takes care in matching Senior Companions with clients.

To be a Senior Companion, a person must be 60 years of age or over, and if income eligible, they receive a tax-free stipend, mileage reimbursement, paid holiday, vacation and sick time. Training and job shadowing are provided.

“Our Senior Companions have been critical in supporting our patients, and there is a need for more in the Lewiston-Auburn area,” said Greene.

Anyone interested should all Anna Saar, Senior Companion program aide, at 1-800-287-1482 for more information and an application.

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