It takes a Village

A brand-new volunteer opportunity is on the horizon in Lake County.

Outback Strong Village aims to find and fill the needs of older adults and people with disabilities. The Village, led by Klamath and Lake Counties Council on Aging in collaboration with the Lake County Older Adult Collaborative, is looking for volunteers who can help their senior neighbors stay in their own homes for as long as possible.

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Those who are interested may sign up at any time, but there also are two upcoming opportunities to learn more. The Lake County Senior Center is hosting an Elder Abuse Awareness event from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. June 7, and the Council on Aging will be on hand to discuss the Village and sign up volunteers. Outback Strong Village also will have a table during Daly Days at Lake District Hospital from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 22.

Outback Strong Village and its Klamath County partner, Klamath Village, follow a nationwide model of Villages that provide older adults comprehensive services, such as modifying homes for safety or driving seniors to the grocery store. Villages also offer seniors and people with disabilities social engagement in the form of regular visits.

The latter is particularly vital in frontier Lake County, where so many residents live far from town and lack a network of family members and friends. Several studies have researched the dangers of loneliness, which can be as destructive as smoking 15 cigarettes a day and increases the likelihood of coronary heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure, depression and dementia.

Outback Strong Village gives Lake County the opportunity to take care of its own. The program is looking for individuals or businesses that can provide home maintenance services at reduced cost, people who can help a senior neighbor with household tasks, individuals who can provide transportation or stop by for a visit, and more. The volunteer opportunities are limitless.

By creating a clearinghouse of volunteers and people who need volunteers, Outback Strong Village will connect the right volunteer to the right needs. In doing so, the Council on Aging and Older Adult Collaborative hope to not only improve lives but strengthen the community.

For more information about Outback Strong Village, call Lisa Bertash, the Council on Aging’s volunteer coordinator, at (541) 205-5400.