2006-03-31 / Community

Foundation Seeks Volunteer Senior Ombudsmen

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens will soon interview persons living in Far Rockaway who are interested in becoming Volunteer Ombudsmen who visit nursing and adult home residents weekly, advocating for and working with them and staff to maintain high standards of care. Volunteer Ombudsmen become the voice of those who can't speak up for themselves.

"We recognize that it is difficult for people in the Rockaways to come to Manhattan for interviews and training," says Laura Petta, director of New York Foundation for Senior Citizens Volunteer Ombudsman Program. "Yet, we must respond to the needs of long term care facility residents living there so we are bringing the interview process and training to the Rockaways."

There are a total of 29 nursing and adult homes in the Rockaways: 17 nursing homes with 3,357 residents and 12 adult homes with 1,890 residents. The goal is to have one Ombudsman for every 100 residents.

Interviews will take place Thursday, April 20 from 1 to 6 p.m. and Friday, April 21 from 10 to 2 p.m. at the Peninsula Library, 9225 Rockaway Beach Blvd. The 36-hour training required to become a Volunteer Ombudsman will take place in the Rockaways in late May or early June. Volunteer Ombudsmen must meet the following requirements: be age 21 or older; complete a free training program; and serve as a volunteer for four hours per week close to their home.

Those interested in becoming a Volunteer Ombudsman should phone (212) 962-2720 to set up an appointment for an interview in the Rockaways.

"Ombudsmen play a vital role in helping assure that the residents maintain their dignity and receive the highest quality of care," says Linda Hoffman, President of New York Foundation for Senior Citizens which oversees the program in New York City. "Volunteer Ombudsmen find the experience rewarding, challenging and fun."

Sara Berger, a Belle Harbor resident, is a Volunteer Ombudsman at New Gloria's Manor and Belle Harbor Manor, both in Rockaway Park. A retired teacher, she has been an Ombudsman for 13 years. "Sometimes it is such a little thing that makes a big difference," Berger says. "The residents feel comfortable speaking with me. I can talk to the appropriate staff members and quickly resolve residents' issues. Being a Volunteer Ombudsman gives me great satisfaction."

New York Foundation for Senior Citizens Ombudsman Program is federally mandated and funded through grants from the New York State Office for the Aging and a contract with the New York City Department for the Aging .

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