Center seeking volunteers to help area seniors

Shanna Halstead with the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center helps coordinate volunteer help to provide needed services to the community. JERRY PURVIS/Star-Herald

SCOTTSBLUFF — As the United Way of Western Nebraska launches a new campaign, one of its client agencies is keeping busy getting volunteers to assist with needed programs.

Shanna Halstead, executive director of the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center, said that without volunteers, many services people rely on wouldn’t exist.

“I feel blessed every day to come to work because the volunteers are such a great group of people,” she said. “There are some real needs in our community and we’re happy to help meet them.”

The primary daily program the Volunteer Center coordinates is Meals on Wheels, which has been rolling along for at least 30 years.

“This is a huge undertaking because we deliver about 100 meals a day,” Halstead said. “We have five routes in Scottsbluff and Gering, which takes five driving teams a day. That’s 110 driving teams a month.”

She pointed out that meals are $4.25, which is less than going through the closest fast food place.

“We work in conjunction with the nutritionists at Regional West Health Services, so they take all of the meals and planning,” she said. “We deliver more than a meal. We provide a visit for people who may be unable to get out of their homes and don’t see others every day.”

Another program that provides food for seniors is the Shopping for Seniors program. The Volunteer Center averages about 300 calls a month from people who would like volunteers to do their shopping. So every Tuesday, volunteers bring the grocery lists to Main Street Market to fill orders, which are then delivered by staff from the supermarket.

“This is another great opportunity for people who need to remain in their homes,” Halstead said. “For some seniors, it’s just not possible for them to get out and do their own shopping and we’re happy to do that for them.”

Home Delivered Commodities is another program offered through the Volunteer Center. Every third Wednesday of the month, volunteers deliver commodities to those who have been pre-qualified through Community Action Partnership of Western Nebraska.

“It’s a good food source for people to get them to the end of the month,” Halstead said.

Starting in October, the Volunteer Center will start collecting nonperishable food for its annual Snow Angels program. Last year, they packed 150 emergency food bags for delivery to those enrolled in Meals on Wheels or the Home Delivered Commodities program.

“Sometimes the winter weather is bad and it isn’t safe to send out our drivers,” she said. “Through Snow Angels, people will have some emergency food until the weather improves and we can start delivery again. Last year was really bad because we had more snow days than we’ve had in years.”

She said some emergency food bags are also kept at the United Way offices because they also get calls from those who need food right away.

Food delivery isn’t the only area where volunteers are needed. They help out at the Buckboard Therapeutic Riding Academy, help with United Way’s Day of Caring, help pack school supplies for the Stuff the Bus program and a lot more.

“We’re ready to help any non-profit agency in need of volunteer help,” Halstead said. “We also help deliver meals for Thanksgiving in the Valley. Last year we had 22 driving teams deliver more than 400 meals. It’s not just a meal. It’s someone to visit with on a special holiday.”

Volunteers are always needed to help in the community. More information is available by calling the Volunteer Center at 308-632-3736.

We're always interested in hearing about news in our community. Let us know what's going on!

Jerry Purvis is a reporter with the Star-Herald. He can be reached at 308-632-9046 or emailed at jpurvis@starherald.com.

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