Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Legal Seminar; My Volunteer Work

On Thursday,  I will be volunteering at a legal seminar.  The event is a continuing education seminar that is hosted by one of the guardianship organizations that I volunteer for and I will be manning the check-in table.  I'm going to be wearing one of the outfits below; I haven't decided which one to choose.  I love both looks, but I think I'm leaning toward the white top rather than the suit.
Although some of the items on this post are quite expensive, I own similar pieces that were not nearly as pricey as the pieces you see here.Legal SeminarThe two organizations I volunteer for are court sanctioned guardianship services for incapacitated adults. One of the agencies is hospital based and serves adults over the age of 55.  The other is housed within an agency that serves adults over the age of 18 with disabilities.  Both agencies provide their services for free to all of the county they are based in.

I became involved during a school internship and stayed on once the internship was completed. The organizations make medical and end of life decisions for those individuals who cannot do so for themselves.  We give consent for treatments and for nursing home placement if necessary. We visit the ward and make sure their needs are being met.  Most wards are in the nursing home placement and we develop a relationship with the facility staff and make sure the person is well cared for.  We attempt to find suitable family members who can take over the guardianship if possible; in many cases it's just not feasible.  For an individual to qualify for this service, they must have no other suitable person who can provide guardianship and must be legally declared incapacitated by a judge after a physician diagnoses incapacitation.

Volunteering in this capacity has tested me and taught me in ways that I could have never imagined.  Some of our 'wards' have life circumstance that are beyond imagination. Some of them have experienced the most dire life circumstances or made very poor life choices.  In every case the volunteer must remain compassionate, professional and consider our decisions carefully; we must set aside our own values at times, and remember that we are not deciding for ourselves, but for another person.  Our decisions have far reaching effects; there are considerations that I could never have imagined.  We address issues that many do not want to address; we give dignity to all whom we serve, including some who may have have experienced very little dignity in life.

We all know by now that the elder population is booming.  It will continue to grow.  Services for the aging are severely limited in proportion to the needs of our nation's elder population.  This problem is only going to become more of a problem as medicine advances and people live longer lives. I'll spare you the soapbox lecture, but I could really go on and on about this.  I am proud to volunteer for both organizations that provide services for a population that is most often invisible.

I volunteer for VAS; Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and for NIAGS; Northwest Indiana Adult Guardianship Services


  1. What a great cause this is. We have been discussing with my mother, now 80, about the possibility of her moving into an apartment in our home. It is a serious decision for us both.

    I think the white top is a better choice--it will make you seem more approachable.

  2. Terri,

    It is a big decision. It's a dilemma that more and more people are experiencing.

    One thing that you can check out, if you don't know about it already is calling the 211 information and resource number. It is a national resource, but some areas don't have it yet...most do. You can also check out

    to see if it is in your area. The center offers referrals and sources of information about services to the elderly and their families. There is a huge list of topics they can provide information for, including respite care, food services....you name they can tell you how to find it.

    My undergrad major in college was Human Development and Family Studies and I'm working on a Masters in the same with a focus on program development and design. It's such a wide open field and the need is incredible.

    I agree on the white top...I ended up wearing a different top altogether...it was just too hot to wear long sleeves!


"When you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause and reflect"--Mark Twain