Introducing ElderLink; CRC seeks volunteers

Meet ElderLink St. Louis, the new and much admired kid on the block. On June 22, ElderLink St. Louis was introduced to the Jewish community and in the short time since its founding has attracted lots of callers in need of help.

Basically, it’s a one-stop shop for Jewish senior adults, their children and caregivers, where you can get answers to all your questions on anything related to aging — everything from how to replace a lost Medicare card, to how to arrange an Alzheimer’s screening, to how to find transportation, to errands and doctor appointments and on and on. This is a free service, a project of the senior service integration committee of the St. Louis Jewish Federation and is administered by Jewish Family and Children’s Service (JF &CS). For an appointment or for more information call 314-812-9333 or visit Social worker Lori Goldberg who coordinates the program explained that her trained staff has helped resolve myriad and varied problems. For example, there was a call from an 87-year-old woman living alone who can’t drive any more and who needed transportation to the grocery store and pharmacy. ElderLink, in a flash, connected her to services which filled her needs for rides. A woman living in Kansas City worried that her elderly father who lives alone in St. Louis was not eating since she found his refrigerator was empty. In her call to Elder Link she told the social worker that her father keeps kosher. The daughter was referred to a program that provides a nutritiously balanced kosher meal every evening.

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“When Elder Link’s senior information and referral specialist called me back to check on things, I was so pleased to tell her that my father was doing much better and that he was enjoying not only the food at the social nutrition program but that he was enjoying the company of other people,” said the satisfied client.

To give you an idea of the variety of calls, I must tell you about the 90-year-old father who was concerned about the social life of his 60-year-old daughter. Sounds to me like he was looking for a date for her, and truthfully I don’t know the outcome of that call. But I will tell you that ElderLink St. Louis has done a remarkable job of helping the elderly, their family and caretakers and is a fabulous new centralized resource providing free advice and referrals on all issues affecting seniors.

VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES are generally of the long-term type, and as much as you and I would like to volunteer we can’t commit to six months or more. Now Central Reform Congregation (CRC) is providing volunteers to the Juvenile Detention Center in midtown St. Louis on a one-time only basis starting in December and continuing once a month through July. The programs have been chosen to meet the specific needs of Detention Center students. No experience is required, as each volunteer will be teamed with Detention Center staff and experienced CRC volunteers. This is the second year of CRC’s affiliation with the Juvenile Detention Center. My daughter Leslie told me that she was recruited last year to help kids write resumes and prepare for their first job. She said that she would be terrible at the job and did not want to do it in the worst way. “So I went kicking and screaming to the Juvenile Detention Center and guess what — I loved working with the student, who turned out to be adorable. The experience was fun and rewarding,” Leslie said. You do not have to be a CRC member to join this volunteer program, only a caring adult whose presence, even for a short time, can make a big difference in the life of a troubled teen. For information or to volunteer, contact Jen Bersdale at 314-361-1564 or online at [email protected].

Calling all Program Chairmen – Recently, I attended a fund-raising luncheon where the program was the Costume Parade of the Repertory Theatre of St. Louis. It was a marvelous show of gorgeous handcrafted costumes used in former performances by the Rep. The Costume Parade, a fundraising project of the Backers Volunteer Board of the Rep, showcases outstanding costumes worn in recent and past productions. Backers Volunteer Board members model approximately 25 costumes in a 45-minute show that includes commentary describing a behind-the-scenes look at individual productions. Costumes from Kiss Me Kate, Gypsy, The Importance of Being Earnest and the Imaginary Theatre Company, all grandly sumptuous, were modeled the day I went. If you are interested in this program for your organization, call Myra Crandall at 636-537-1551, Joan Tiemann at 314-729-1633 or e-mail Valerie Gough at [email protected].