By Danielle Herrman, People, Inc.

Growing older can bring challenges, such as difficulty managing appointments, running errands, loneliness, and social isolation. People Inc.’s AmeriCorps Senior Companion Program responds with volunteers who assist older adults with daily tasks to help preserve their dignity and independence, while providing supportive friendship and companionship.

Gloria has been a senior companion volunteer for 6 years, helping local seniors like 86-year-old Nettie, who considers her a good friend. The two recently spent a day that began with laughter and card games in Nettie’s cozy community room, followed by running errands. Gloria helped Nettie find some household items and pick out her favorite word-search books at Dollar General. Next, they visited the neighborhood pharmacy, where Nettie greeted familiar faces, smiling and engaging in conversations with the pharmacist and staff while awaiting her prescriptions.

Beyond these daily tasks is the bond of friendship and support, reflecting the true spirit of the Senior Companion Program. Nettie’s words say it all. “Gloria is the best! I have no family and she’s been wonderful. I don’t know what I’d do without her.” Meanwhile, Gloria says, “It’s more than just a role. I love being a companion, spending time with Nettie and taking her out for the day, but more importantly, I get to be her friend.”

Senior companions must be 55 years or older, live in Erie County, and meet income eligibility requirements. Companions help frail older adults ages 55 or older with disabilities or a terminal illness, and are supervised by professional staff of People Inc. and other collaborating agencies. Companions are also paid a stipend.

If you are age 55+, in need of support, or interested in becoming a senior companion, call 716-768-2381 or visit