Capitol Heights, Maryland
The Juanita C. Grant Foundation wishes to concentrate on two programs for funding. The Village Connector Experience (VCE) service expands our volunteer advocacy efforts to improve the quality of life for the 50+ efforts by addressing social isolation during and post the COVID-19 pandemic. JCGF launched the Village Connector Experience program in July 2020 to identify older adults that would benefit and desire a caring voice and dedicated attention. Those individuals that register for the VCE are referred to as members. VCE members may elect to have calls 1-3 times per week and receive greeting cards, letters and surprise packages. Group experiences include tea times and coffee clutches. Data is collected during each call to inform training needs, assess quality of interactions and maintain quality control standards. Calls are conducted by volunteers that have completed a 16-hour training course in customer service, active listening skills, data management and goal setting. Currently, VCE members receive calls in over 22 states. Within the Pr. George's County area, over 145 VCE members receive structured calls. Since launching the VCE program in July 2020, over 730 older adults have benefited from the call service and receiving personalized cards and happy packages to diminish the sense of social isolation. JCGF has partnered with the local Family Justice Center expanding outreach to the 50+ community. JCGF signed a partnership agreement to provide ongoing education and consultation to older adults on elder abuse and financial fraud. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, JCGF provided in-person seminars on the latest area scams and financial schemes. Panelists consisted of the IRS, US Postal Service, Social Security, Housing Fraud Division, Adult Protective Social Services and the State's Attorney's Office. The seminars are highly interactive in which attendees age 72+ are able to interact with the law enforcement and social service experts on specific concerns or incidences. Virtual educational webinars with law enforcement presenters have taken the place of in person meetings at Senior Community Centers and neighborhood libraries. A benefit of the virtual webinars is reaching a national audience and having the videos available post event for viewing.
Since launching the VCE program in July 2020, over 730 older adults in 22 states have benefited from the call service and receiving personalized cards and happy packages to diminish the sense of social isolation. Relationships have been forged with local Red Cross offices, Meals on Wheels, Goodwill agencies and Senior Community Service Employment Programs for outreach to older adults and train new VCE Ambassadors. One partnership with Chattanooga Goodwill SCSEP program has resulted in job trainees working full time as certified VCE Ambassadors to fulfill their 29 hours of employment. These trainees have gained valuable training and work skills in computer skills, data management, customer services, assessment of member's tone and energy levels, listening skills and working in groups.
The Elder Abuse and Financial Fraud Education Series was launched in 2017. Then States Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (now County Executive of Pr. George's County Maryland) requested JCGF conduct the series on a Countywide basis. Since then, the panel presentations have covered each District. As COVID-19 became a pandemic, the education series has moved to a virtual platform allowing not only regional but national exposure to over 1,255 attendees.
To improve the lives of the 50+ through economic security, education and training.