Tami Freed understands the importance of volunteering and the positive impact it can have on the older adults she spends her time with.

“Volunteering offers a sense of connectedness and belonging,” said Freed.

As an AmeriCorps caregiver support & respite volunteer through Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), Freed offers breaks to family caregivers by spending a few hours each week with the individuals they are taking care of.

She also recognizes the impact that volunteering has on her own life. 

“There is a satisfaction that comes with volunteering,” she shared. “It allows me to focus on something other than myself and gives me an appreciation for mankind in that we were created for community.”

Respite volunteers also offer older adults more opportunities to maintain social connections, an important aspect of healthy aging that can become difficult as people experience dementia or mobility limitations. 

AmeriCorps caregiver volunteers meet at the homes of older adults and out in the community, offering caregivers a few hours each week to run errands, catch up with friends and recharge. People who care for loved ones rely on local volunteers like Freed to provide this life-changing support. 

Currently, due to COVID-19, all visits are being done virtually through phone and video chat, but support can be given, and friendships are still formed even virtually. Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is hoping to resume in-person volunteering in the fall.

As the population of older Minnesotans grows, so does interest in this service. Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota is seeking volunteers to help meet an increasing need to provide support and respite to family caregivers. 

This service offers an opportunity for caring individuals to share their skills, meet new people and make a direct difference in people’s lives. Volunteers earn a monthly living allowance ranging from $150 to $250 and can earn a $1,300 to $1,600 education grant annually, which they can use for tuition and student loans. Volunteers who meet hourly requirements over four years can earn a total of up to $18,400.

Volunteers older than 55 can also put these grants toward a child or grandchild’s education fund. 

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota provides volunteers with training and requires no prior experience. To qualify, volunteers must be at least 17 years old, with availability each week and a reliable vehicle. They also must pass a standard background check. The statewide organization serves all Minnesotans and welcomes volunteers from various cultures, backgrounds, traditions and stages in life to inquire. 

To learn more or to get started, contact Program Director Tara Giese at (866) 787-9802, tara.giese@lssmn.org or visit lssmn.org/caregiver/volunteernow. 

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota began in 1865 when a Lutheran pastor and his congregation opened an orphanage for children near Red Wing. Today, with 2,500 employees and 10,000 volunteers, Lutheran Social Service helps one in 65 Minnesotans each year live and work in a community with safety, dignity, and hope. 

Through a wide range of services, the organization seeks to provide safe and stable homes for children, restore health and wellness in families, help people with disabilities live full lives in community and improve quality of life for older adults. For more information, visit www.lssmn.org.