Volunteer Guardian Program seeking volunteers to assist adults in long-term care

Kent Weeklies

The Volunteer Guardian Program (VGP) in Summit County is currently seeking volunteers to serve as advocates and surrogate decision-makers for adults living in long-term care.

Nearly 2,500 adults are under the Superior Guardianship of Summit County Probate Court because they do not have the capacity to make critical decisions for themselves, nor do they have relatives to help them. “It is sad to say, but the need for Volunteer Guardians continues, even in these difficult times,” said Probate Court Judge Elinore Marsh Stormer. “There are many vulnerable individuals who need your compassionate decision making, now more than ever.”

Established in 2014, the Volunteer Guardian Program connects hundreds of adults under court guardianship with caring volunteer guardians. VGP staff train and assist volunteer guardians so they can make medical and placement decisions to assure the safety of these adults living in a group home or nursing home. “Individuals with serious conditions, which can include Alzheimer’s, dementia, mental health challenges or developmental disabilities, often have difficulty with self-advocacy,” said Gerald Craig, executive director of Summit County Alcohol, Drug Addiction & Mental Health Services Board. “Consequently, their needs are not recognized without someone to help. Having an advocate, especially when family members are not an option, can be the most impactful way to touch the life of a truly vulnerable person.”

While volunteer guardianship is an important commitment, the work can easily fit into a volunteer’s busy family and work schedule. Current program volunteers, many of whom work (in a wide range of fields) or are retirees find they have plenty of time to make a meaningful impact. The Volunteer Guardian Program is an umbrella program of Summit County Public Health.

Volunteer Guardians must be 21 years old, submit an application, pass a background check and complete training (done at their convenience.) The Volunteer Guardian Program will be hosting two informational webinars for those interested in learning more about guardianship and the Volunteer Guardian Program on Thursday, Oct. 15 at 12:30 p.m. Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-its-like-tobe-a-volunteer-guardian-tickets-123826124271 and Tuesday, Oct. 20 at 5:30 p.m. Link: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/what-its-liketo-be-a-volunteer-guardian-tickets-121492947677.

For additional information the Volunteer Guardian Program, visit volunteerguardian.com or contact Julie Falter, Esq., Volunteer Recruiter, at 330-703-5970 or by email at vgpsummit@gmail.com.