Good Neighbors: Young Volunteers in Wichita, Kan., Are Recruited to Help the Elderly

From June 1998 to April 2000, a Wichita, Kan. project linked youth volunteers with frail elders who might not qualify for government assistance. In recent years, local funding of elder services had been cut back so that only the most frail elderly qualified for help with housecleaning, transportation, grocery shopping, and other assistance that would help them stay in their homes.

The project was coordinated by Senior Services, which has been providing services to the elderly since 1968. Senior Services expanded its Neighborhood Connection program, which matched volunteers with older neighbors, to include youth volunteers.

It was part of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (RWJF) program Faith in Action®.

Key Results

  • The project ran into some difficulty in recruiting busy young people and their families and in finding transportation to get for the young people to go their volunteer assignments.

    However, the project did manage to recruit about 70 young people and 20 adults who served about 130 elders. The youths wrote letters and cards to older adults, and shoveled snow. Developmentally disabled high school students cleaned homes, which was also intended to help the students gain experience that could lead to jobs.