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April 3, 2009

DOEA News Release

Jon Peck
(850) 414-2142

Elder Affairs Recognizes Tremendous Benefit of Senior Volunteers

TALLAHASSEE – The Department of Elder Affairs will commemorate April as Florida’s Volunteer Month by honoring the numerous contributions of senior volunteers. The Department and hundreds of other senior-focused organizations rely heavily on the kindness and dedication of local volunteers.

More than 35,000 volunteers each year help these organizations deliver essential services to seniors, from home-delivered meals to health insurance counseling. Last year these volunteers provided more than 1.9 million hours of service.

The Department will honor its volunteers at the annual Golden Choices Awards recognition and celebration event in St. Petersburg on April 22 and 23. The Department will recognize exceptional volunteers in the Senior Companion, SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders), Long-Term Care Ombudsman, AmeriCorps, RELIEF (Respite for Elders Living in Everyday Families) and Guardian ad Litem programs, as well as the Eckerd Youth Alternatives project and outstanding volunteers supporting the Communities for a Lifetime initiative.  

“More and more older Floridians are spending their later years improving our communities and enhancing the lives of thousands of local residents,” said Secretary E. Douglas Beach. “In these difficult economic times, we simply would not be able to serve as many elders without the dedication of our amazing corps of volunteers.”

Two of the Department’s most vital programs, Long-Term Care Ombudsman and SHINE, rely on hundreds of volunteers to provide one-on-one contact with seniors in need. These volunteers, most of them seniors themselves, enable thousands of elders each year to remain socially connected. Last year volunteer ombudsmen conducted 3,932 administrative assessments of long-term care facilities and responded to more than 7, 758 complaints from residents, families and concerned citizens. Meanwhile, SHINE volunteers provided free, unbiased information to more than 260,000 elders on health insurance, prescription drug assistance and long-term care insurance options.

For more information about volunteer opportunities with the Department of Elder Affairs, please call 850-414-2000 or visit