Career Story: Transportation And Volunteer Program Coordinator At A Senior Center

Transportation And Volunteer Program Coordinator At A Senior Center

Job Title: Transportation And Volunteer Program Coordinator

Type of Company: I work for the Council on Aging for a town in suburban Massachusetts.

Education: BS, Hotel, Restaurant, Travel Administration, UMass-Amherst •• Masters candidate, Suffolk University (Boston, MA)

Previous Experience: Immediately out of college I took a job as a Housekeeping Manager with an international hotel chain. This led me to work at a medium-sized convention center in a large city, first as a service representative, then in accounts payable, and eventually as an accounting supervisor, event manager and sales manager. I then worked as a sales manager for an international hotel chain before leaving the field for awhile. I returned to the workforce in the capacity of Transportation and Volunteer Coordinator at a senior center.

Job Tasks: I help run the senior center in a town with a population of 28,000, nearly a quarter of whose citizens are over 65. We are a social services resource, providing educational and recreational opportunities for the weak and infirm.

I coordinate the fleet of vans that ferries residents from their homes to the local grocery store and back. I also coordinate rides for residents who want to commute between their homes and the Senior Center. I oversee the efforts of the nearly 300 volunteers, from middle school age to 100, who assist with the operations of the center. We do not have a receptionist, for example; we have ten volunteer slots for receptionists, 2 per day, 5 days a week. We have volunteers who assist our shoppers, collate our monthly newsletter, serve lunch, practice and perform concerts.

Best and Worst Parts of the Job: The best part of my job is being able to socialize with people who have lots of life experience. I love to hear stories and give respect and show interest in other people.

Job Tips: Be patient and realize that most skills learned on one industry are transferable to another. Don't limit your possibilities to only what you know about. Be willing to look beyond the obvious and to learn from others.

Additional Thoughts: Many people have the misconception that older people are boring. There is so much to learn from other people's experiences. I wish I knew more resources to refer others to when seeking financial and medical advice.

The most important personal quality for success in social service/elder population is patience. Be open minded and creative in your approach to others.

If a student were to shadow me on my job for a day, I think the biggest impression would be how busy the center is and how many different types of situations arise in the course of a day. A person came in the other day who who'd just been stung by a bee. She wasn't having difficulty breathing but wanted to go to our local hospital. She walked from her home to the center. She wanted to take the van to the hospital. If she began to have difficulty breathing on the van, what could the driver do? Should she have been allowed to take the van? Or should we have called for an ambulance?

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