Volunteers have lasting effect on community

Written by Bruce Lindner. Posted in Featured, Senior Living

Published on June 02, 2021 with No Comments

Volunteering can truly have a ripple effect that creates a stronger community and happier and healthier residents.

Donna DeRuntz

Jill Pfister, left, and Donna DeRuntz were instrumental in helping open the PCACS Medical Loan Closet.

“Volunteers in every community work hard to make the community better for all and I have been the benefactor of those efforts,” said volunteer Donna DeRuntz. “I am simply following the path. Although, I have found that it really is rewarding personally to think that you might have done something to help others, and not just self-serving.”

DeRuntz has worked with volunteer Jill Pfister to help us open our Medical Loan Closet, which provides needed items to Porter County community members. These range from wheelchairs and canes to adult diapers and toilet seat chairs.

“I help Jill to assess the equipment to see if it is in good enough condition to safely use, identify those needing minor repairs or parts replaced and cleaning and sanitizing so the items are ready to go out the door,” DeRuntz said.

Jill Pfister

John Loden served as a volunteer for the PCACS Energy Assistance Program.

“I was looking to get back out in the community and when I saw the opportunity, I knew it was for me,” Pfister said.

Pfister has worked with older adults for more than 20 years and has volunteered with St. Agnes Adult Day Service Center. She has created a network that she puts to work to help older adults know what’s available to live their best lives.

“I love working with older adults. I started doing educational programs with churches and community groups to educate seniors about the resources that are available to them as they don’t look until it’s right in their face,” she said.

Last year, Westchester Township Trustee Suzanne Philbrick was a driving force for the closet. She wanted to offer community members vital medical devices to improve seniors’ lives. 

“I know this program can be very impactful. Set aside the emotional toll that illness can have on a family, medical equipment can be cost-prohibitive,” DeRuntz said. “PCACS has equipment for loan, no cost.”

“Making it easily accessible is important,” added Pfister. “Cost is not an excuse when you are trying to convince your loved one to use a walker. We want to make sure the items are clean – top to bottom – as they will be going into someone’s home.”

DeRuntz finds giving her time really helps keep her connected to the community.

“Volunteering is a great way to meet people, and I have met some very nice people who amaze me with the gift of time,” she said. “It is a great way to keep using skills you have or learn new skills, so you don’t feel like you are wasting on the vine. It is just a good feeling that some part of what you do can help someone else.”

Our offices are still closed to the public, so anyone in need of medical devices can contact us to arrange a time to pick up needed items by calling 219-464-9736 ext. 216.

We will always be accepting donations of medical devices as well, especially non-motorized wheelchairs. If you have any items to donate, contact us to arrange a time and day for drop-off.

John Loden

John Loden was part of our Energy Assistance Program volunteer crew this season. The program assists community members who are struggling to pay their energy bills. 

He also has given time to the Indiana Dunes Visitors Center and VNA in Valparaiso.

“Volunteering keeps you tied to the community,” he said. “Personally, it keeps the mind sharp. I am challenged daily when I volunteer with the program and it keeps my communications skills sharp, dealing with the public.”

Loden worked for 36 years with NIPSCO as an engineer before retiring.

“Now I help people in Porter County pay their NIPSCO bills! There are hundreds of people with circumstances where they cannot pay their energy bills,” he said. “If I can contribute in a small way with the process of helping folks financially, it gives me a great sense of accomplishment.”

For more information, call 219-464-9736 or, visit www.portercountyacs.org.  

Services available:

  • Transportation
  • Energy Assistance
  • Ramp Program
  • SHIP
  • Emergency Assistance
  • Section 8 Housing Program
  • Food Bank Distribution Site

All opinions, conclusions and recommendations expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the views of The Chronicle. Bruce Lindner has worked in the non-profit world for more than 35 years and for the past 12 years has been serving as the executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services. For more information, contact him directly at 219-465-7144 or email at bhlindner@portercountyacs.org. 

Cutlines:

John Loden served as a volunteer for the PCACS Energy Assistance Program.

Jill Pfister, left, and Donna DeRuntz were instrumental in helping open the PCACS Medical Loan Closet.

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About Bruce Lindner

All opinions, conclusions or recommendations expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of The Chronicle.  Bruce Lindner has worked in the not-for-profit world for more than 25 years and has been executive director of Porter County Aging and Community Services for five. A native of the Region, he was raised in Portage and he graduated from Valparaiso University. You can call him at 219-464-9736 or e-mail at bhlindner@frontier.com.

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