The last couple times out, we talked about volunteers - how much they accomplish, how much they're needed, and how much we could use more! And we talked about just where you could start helping out - RSVP, peer counseling, food banks and so on. Please bear with me as I do the volunteer-thing one more time.

So let's talk about SHIBA. Those of you have read this column for some time and have a penchant for memorizing acronyms (scary thought) may recognize it as Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors. SHIBA volunteers are definitely among us - some in our office weekly! Trained counselors provide assistance, information and guidance through the sometimes tangled trails of social services. Just some of the things they're involved in:

• Benefits checkup, a comprehensive - though relatively quick - search for possible benefits geared toward individual needs and circumstances.

• Information and referral to supplemental insurances

• Prescription assistance; programs that will provide access to discounted or free prescriptions.

An available informational flyer states, "Volunteers assist eligible individuals who have no access to the Internet. They conduct a preliminary screening, research national databases, download applications, and assist in preparing the documents necessary to determine eligibility in various programs. They can provide ongoing support for timely refills and continuous program participation."

In short, SHIBA volunteers are members of the community who volunteer their time and energy to be a help and a friendly ear. I've watched them in action many times, and what could be a daunting task becomes a rewarding and enjoyable experience. It is not uncommon to hear laughter, even though the subject is social services!

So want to jump in? Currently, we have a group working in south Pacific County and one volunteer in north Pacific County - kind of obvious where the need is right now. Our office in Raymond has been diligently reaching out and serving north county folks for years, and they've done a great job. Volunteers can - and do - enhance that service.

Here's a chance to participate in a rewarding, interesting and positive activity that gives you the sometimes rare opportunity of seeing quick results.

Unsure if this a good fit for you? Give us a call. Need more information? Give us a call. Just want to chat about it? Give us a call. We can answer your questions, arrange for training, and even connect you with current volunteers so you can get a "real" picture of what it's all about.

Could be just what you're looking for, so (did I mention this before?) give us a call!

Senior Information & Assistance

Long Beach: 642-3634/888-571-6558

Raymond: 942-2177/888-571-6557

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