Brookfield has a tradition of seniors helping seniors through the Senior Citizens Van, but Maria Cavileer believes there is so much more local seniors could be doing in their community.
Cavileer is coordinator for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, a program funded by the U.S. Corporation for National and Community Service and sponsored by Family and Community Services Inc. of Ravenna.
“We recruit anyone who is 55 and older just to get out in their communities and do anything,” she told Brookfield trustees May 24.
She tries to align a volunteer’s interests with a community need.
“I have people who are mentors in schools,” said Cavileer, who lives in Brookfield. “I have people who help out at soup kitchens, people who provide transportation. I have a woman who helps out with hospice, and she goes and visits patients and their families. I have someone who does Meals on Wheels in Mahoning County for the meal delivery program. Then I have people who just want to do events. They’ll be helping out with any of the festivals that happen anywhere in the summer, stuff like that.”
The trustees were interested in talking to Cavileer because RSVP offers a senior transportation program. Senior drivers can earn 42 cents a mile and be provided supplemental auto and liability insurance coverage by using their own vehicles to transport other seniors.
“It’s not just doctor’s appointments,” Cavileer said. “It’s any type of appointment, any type of social event.”
There is no limit to the distance of the trip, and state boundaries are no obstacle. The amount of work a driver does is up to the driver, she said.
Trustees were interested in whether the township’s senior van drivers could be covered by the RSVP program, but Cavileer said they cannot be paid for driving the senior van, only for driving their own vehicles.
The program could supplement the senior van, offering trips at times the van is not available, and van drivers can participate if they use their own vehicles, she said.
Unlike the van, there is no charge to ride through Cavileer’s program.
Trustee Ron Haun said he wants to make the van drivers aware of the program.
“These people volunteer their time for us,” he said. “It would be nice for them to be able to get rewarded in some manner or other financially.”
Cavileer presented the program to the Brookfield Over the Hill Gang, the township’s once monthly senior gathering, on June 20, said Trustee Dan Suttles.
Suttles said he hopes a nice group of drivers can be recruited, as the senior driving program could keep providing senior transportation in the township if something happens to the senior citizens van.
“That van’s going to die, eventually, so we have to look at avenues to replace it or something,” he said.