The Shepherd’s Center celebrated responding to its 25,000th request for transportation assistance on Thursday, Aug. 15.
To mark this significant milestone, Mayor Allen Joines met with Donald White, a longtime recipient of Shepherd’s Center services. White was then chauffeured by Linda Barnes, the mayor’s assistant, to an appointment.
White, who struggles with multiple health issues, has used the Shepherd’s Center’s transportation program to get to his medical appointments since 2011. At the age of 20, he developed Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was treated and went into remission. He moved to Crystal Towers in 1997. His cancer returned in 2003 and in 2005 he underwent a 28-hour surgery. Currently, an in-home aide comes to his apartment each day and a home health nurse visits every two weeks.
During any given week, the Shepherd’s Center responds to an average of 45 requests from older adults to get to their doctor’s offices, therapy appointments, or to mental health services. Over the course of a month, this translates to about 180 requests. Many of those served indicate that without this program, they would likely miss some of their appointments, thus compromising their health and wellbeing.
The Shepherd’s Center of Greater Winston-Salem is an interfaith ministry that provides direct services, volunteer opportunities and enrichment programs for older adults. In addition to serving transportation needs, the Center’s Faith in Action Care program, sends volunteers to visit older adults who live alone and provides respite visits to give caregivers a needed break.
In other Shepherd’s Center news, the Center’s board recently approved a change to the age guidelines for services provided through Faith in Action Care.
The new guideline for requests for services is age 60 and above, replacing the previous guideline of age 50 and above. The implementation of the new age guideline is effective Sept. 1. Those individuals under age 60 who have been previously served will continue to receive services. The change to the age guideline does not affect other programs and services of the Shepherd’s Center, which remains age 50 and above for participation in senior center activities and services.
The organization says the change was necessitated by the growing number of requests from older adults over age 60, the continuing need for volunteers to provide the services and a reduction in federal and state funding for aging services.