Written by: Olivia Forgette

As you and your family age, it is comforting to know that services like those offered by Senior Care Volunteer Network (SCVN) in McHenry County exist. Elderly individuals face many daily challenges, including transportation, access to necessary mobility aids, regular friendly human connections and more.

We spoke with the Outreach Director at SCVN, Laura Turasky, for an expert dive into what exactly SCVN has to offer, and how you can easily volunteer to help our local aging community.

Over 15 percent of the community in McHenry county are 65 years of age or older, meaning there is a need for these services in our community. Whether you are seeking aid for yourself or a loved one, or you are interested in helping your local senior community by volunteering, you can find all the necessary information here!

What services does Senior Care Volunteer Network offer?

Our elderly loved ones face many challenges on a regular basis. SCVN is on a mission to help with these daily challenges at no cost to the senior or their family. According to Turasky, the McHenry county SCVN delivers free services to seniors including transportation to life-critical, life-essential, and life-enriching destinations. This includes free transportation to things like doctor’s appointments, the hair salon, a trip to the accountant, shopping, and more.

Check out some additional services that SCVN offers free of charge:

  • Friendly calls and visits for regular human connection
  • Food box delivery
  • Special birthday deliveries
  • Seasonal outdoor yard work projects
  • Incontinence product program (more on this later!)
  • Durable medical equipment loan closet access (the largest of its kind in the county!)
  • Free cloth face coverings in response to the COVID-19 pandemic

Durable medical equipment loan closet

SCVN is home to the largest medical equipment loan closet in McHenry County. Donated items are offered free of charge to those in need of wheelchairs, walkers, shower chairs and benches, bed rails, canes, knee walkers and more.

Anyone is eligible to borrow equipment from the loan closet, however delivery of these items is not a service that volunteers provide.

If you have any of these items you would like to donate to the SCVN, donations are always welcomed and appreciated!

Transportation services

A group of transportation volunteers are fully trained, submit to a background check, and provide proof of insurance in order to volunteer for the transportation services program. These transportation services can be life-critical medical appointments, but also can be used for social and recreational events, salon and barber shop appointments, shopping and more.

Incontinence product program

According to Turasky, the SCVN incontinence product program is one that many are unaware of, but it can make a big impact in a care receiver’s life who lacks voluntary control over urination and defecation.

“Our incontinence product program is not something we advertise, but it is an essential part of our care receiver’s lives. [Care receivers] require these products, [and the products are offered] at no cost to maintain their integrity,” she said.

Making an impact

The SCVN is celebrating 22 years of connecting McHenry county seniors with community resources through their active network of volunteers. The program has served nearly 1,500 unique seniors, completed almost 6,000 rides, and offered durable medical equipment to over 500 individuals in need.

The organization has provided nearly 2,000 friendly phone calls, which are essential for the elderly to feel they have human connection. Plus, SCVN has delivered over 3,500 meals to seniors experiencing food insecurity through their grocery and food box delivery services.

Ultimately, SCVN has saved McHenry County seniors and their families over $398,000!

Utilizing Senior Care Volunteer Network services

Qualifying care receivers are individuals who are age 60 and older. All care receivers must participate in an intake process, and must clear a background check, according to Turasky. SCVN serves all of McHenry County and the Del Webb community. Click the link in this paragraph to visit the intake form and begin receiving essential help.

Other qualifying factors for seniors looking to take advantage of the transportation services are as follows:

  • The care receiver must be able to get into a vehicle with no assistance
  • The care receiver must also have the ability to advocate for themselves

Technology challenged?

SCVN strives to make their services accessible, and easy to obtain for aging adults. Turasky mentioned that the volunteer network welcomes all care receivers to simply call their office at 815.455.3120 to request appointments or to share their current needs. This system ensures that seniors are able to take advantage of the no cost services without the roadblock of technology sitting in the way.

How to volunteer your time to help seniors

Volunteers can begin the sign up process by filling out an application online here! Turasky explained after the application has been filled out, SCVN will work with you to schedule an in-person or an online Zoom orientation. Once a background check is cleared, SCVN welcomes the volunteer by matching them with the tasks they feel most interested in.

Maureen Forgette is not only a top-selling real estate agent in our area, but also a volunteer for SCVN. “I find volunteering for SCVN has been the easiest volunteer experience I’ve ever had. I am in complete control of the schedule and how many drives I do, or don’t do, depending on my varying availability,” Forgette said. “It’s so easy to pick-and-choose what time works best for you as a volunteer,” she concluded.

When asked about if volunteering through SCVN is rewarding, Forgette said that the seniors she works with are incredibly grateful for the no cost services provided to them. “Plus, the conversations we have in the car are a hoot! I find volunteering for SCVN rewarding, and also a lot of fun,” she said.

Turasky stated that SCVN is always looking forward to continuing to build their volunteer program and serve the growing number of seniors in our county, so if you are interested in volunteering, she encourages you to reach out to learn more!