Nonprofit absorbs senior volunteer programs
Four volunteer programs for seniors will continue to be offered through a nonprofit following a recent merger.
Senior Neighbors in Grand Rapids said earlier this month it has merged the programs formerly operated by Gerontology Network into its organization to continue providing the opportunities to seniors: AARP Experience Core, which tutors children in reading and math; Foster Grandparents, which works with special needs children; Traveling Grannies & Grandpas, a mentoring and role-modeling program for at-risk children; and Senior Companions, which is a companionship program for isolated or lonely seniors.
Robert Barnes, president of Senior Neighbors, said the nonprofit is pleased to work closely with the former staff members from Gerontology Network to provide an array of volunteer programs that serve seniors and children.
"We are really excited about the opportunity to continue providing these programs," Barnes said. "These are excellent programs. It is a good fit for Senior Neighbors, and we think it is going to work really well.”
Handing off remaining programs
Gerontology Network and its affiliate Porter Hills decided that to best serve the needs of the groups, it would be better to find a partner to fulfill the mission of the programs.
“Really, what was left of Gerontology Network was just those four programs, so the legal merger is entirely with the entity of Gerontology Network,” Barnes said.
Barnes said Porter Hills and Gerontology Network identified Senior Neighbors as a good fit to continue providing the programs after conducting a due-diligence process.
Senior Neighbors already offered a senior volunteer program that leveraged a majority of the same funding and was considered a sister program, according to Barnes.
“We have sort of the history and expertise of operating and the funding,” Barnes said. “It made sense to partner with them.”
With the merger of the former Gerontology Network programs into Senior Neighbors, the staff associated with the programs transitioned to Senior Neighbors. The staff will remain at their same location off of South Division Avenue for the time being, until they can be moved into Senior Neighbors’ central office.
Gerontology Network also discontinued two of its programs in July 2014 — Outreach and Assistance and CareTree — after being unable to find a strategic partner to continue them.
The health and wellness provider also transitioned its case-management program over to Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services in April 2014.
Senior Neighbors, founded in 1972, provides a number of services and wellness programs to assist seniors with remaining healthy and independent: case management, home repairs, Medicare and Medicaid counseling, transportation, health and wellness and senior volunteers.
The nonprofit serves nearly 4,000 seniors in Kent County with its locations in Grand Rapids, Grandville, Lowell, Sparta and Walker.