VENICE -- Andee Heistand and her daughter Carla Conley share something special. They are AmeriCorps members at Senior Friendship Centers in Venice. Andee assists with activities in the Senior Center and Carla works in the nutrition program, helping with meals and doing outreach. Andee joined AmeriCorps Serving the Suncoast in September of 2010 and Carla followed a year later in 2011.
Both enjoy the opportunity to help seniors in our community and find their own lives enriched in the process.
"When I was growing up, we always had people in our house, my mom has always had such a generous spirit with so much love to offer anyone that came into her path,” said Carla. “Following in her footsteps in being an AmeriCorps member has had a tremendous impact on me. Seeing the needs in our community and being able to offer the resources, programs, and kindness that comes from being AmeriCorps with the Senior Friendship Centers is a deeply rewarding experience, and being able to share this experience with my mom…well there are just no words that can aptly describe how I feel.
“I think everyone should have an experience like this sometime in their life. Sharing in the lives of our seniors is something that will always be a part of me. When I first became an AmeriCorps member, I wanted to be a part of something to enrich the lives of individuals, however, I have found that it has been my life that feels enriched by doing what I do,” she added.
“And being side by side with my mom? I can never fill her shoes, but she fills my heart and the hearts of so many others every day.”
The AmeriCorps Mission and Legacy engages AmeriCorps members in direct service to address unmet community needs. Local programs design service activities for a team of members. Senior Friendship Centers’ AmeriCorps Serving Suncoast Seniors program provides a variety of services to senior citizens in Sarasota, Lee, Charlotte and DeSoto counties. Members facilitate activities, enrichment & educational programs and provide training, services for and assistance to caregivers.
AmeriCorps members received a monthly living stipend, health benefits, and after one year of service are eligible for the Segal Education Award of $5,500 to be used to further their education, pay existing student loans, or, if you’re 55+, you can pass the award down to a child or grandchild. Members can serve for up to a total of 4 years.
For more information on the AmeriCorps Serving the Suncoast program, call AmeriCorps Suncoast Director Katie Bizzaro at 941.584.0073, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Senior Friendship Centers’ Venice campus, located at 2350 Scenic Drive on the Intracoastal Waterway, offers a full range of services to enhance the quality of life and health of older adults. The Kathleen K. Catlin Friendship Center is a hub of campus activities, classes, programs, and entertainment. The Living Room Adult Day Service provides a safe environment for individuals who are frail, or have Alzheimers or other memory impairment. The Caregiver Resource Center offers supportive programming, services and information for caregivers. Nutritious meals are served at the center and delivered to the homebound. Care management and supportive services help older adults live independently. The Pat Buster Health Service, staffed by retired physicians, dentists, pharmacists, nurses and clinic aides, provides medical and dental care to low income and uninsured older adults. For more information call, 955.2122, or visit friendshipcenters.org.