Stories from intrepid reporters attending the Illinois Press Foundation Journalism Workshop at Eastern Illinois University
By Isabel Riordan
Anyone with an elderly relative that has a hard time getting around can appreciate the unrelenting compassion that a small senior center shows to the elderly citizens in the town of Arcola.
The Arcola Center provides a number of services for the citizens of Arcola age 60 and over, mainly providing free transportation to and from doctor’s appointments and other various destinations. Senior citizens also have the chance to participate in several social activities with each other. They have potlucks at the Arcola center on Valentine’s Day, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and every third Friday.
Telecare is a non-profit organization that runs on volunteer work and donations from businesses located at the Arcola Center .
“Some of our volunteers are in their seventies and eighties,” said program coordinator Sandra Mast. She is currently looking for more volunteers. “We could use all the help we can get,” she said.
Several of the senior citizens have no families to care for them, so they rely completely on the volunteers for help.
The volunteers’ work doesn’t go unnoticed, however. According to Mast, the seniors always tell the volunteers how grateful they are. “They really appreciate everything [the volunteers] do for them.”
A recipient of Telecare services, Joe Headrick, thinks Telecare has a positive impact on the seniors of Arcola. “It gives them places to go, things to do.” The seniors sometimes help assist with events in Arcola by cooking when there are antique shows in town, said Headrick.
At their many social gatherings, the senior citizens often amuse themselves by playing games and watching television. On some days, they come to the Arcola Center at 7 am to play a game called Dirty Marbles. The game has similar rules to Sorry, but uses a board with a set-up somewhat like Chinese Checkers. Headrick seemed to enjoy the game very much. “It makes the women mad when they lose,” he said.
Mast and countless other volunteers for Telecare have dedicated their time to the aid of the senior citizens of Arcola. Mast said she has found her job rewarding. She enjoys helping people and her favorite part of her job is, “being with the seniors.”