Nonprofit Highlight: Barrington Area Council on Aging

Below is Barrington Area Volunteer Connection’s third installment of their new profile program, highlighting non-profits using BAVC for their volunteering needs. Keep reading for the profile of Barrington Area Council on Aging (Bacoa).

Interview with Carol Hannagan – Administration & Volunteer Management | Barrington Area Council on Aging (Bacoa)

How did you become involved with this organization?

Though I am relatively new to Bacoa, this is my seventh year working with older adults in the Barrington area so Bacoa is a phenomenal fit. I was impressed with all of the programs that Bacoa offers for every stage of aging. I was equally excited to see how the Staff and Board of Directors work together on daily basis. Bacoa has been around since 1984 and has always been committed to the success of older adults. Bacoa has engaging programming, compassionate and educated staff as well as a strong Board of Directors. 

How has your organization handled the challenges during COVID, as far as your services, programs, staffing, etc? 

The entire Bacoa staff immediately switched to all virtual programming and continued working without skipping a beat. It was nothing short of impressive! As we look to the future, we are hoping to not only open for in-person programs and appointments but continue to offer virtual in order to keep as many older adults engaged on a regular basis as possible. 

Are there any new programs or new initiatives you will be implementing for 2021?

Yes! New programs are a big part of making sure that a new need is being met. We have several new programs coming to Bacoa but my favorite is the Dementia Friendly Community Initative. Our Executive Director, Terri Channer, along with the Board of Directors, are hard at work taking the steps to make Barrington a Dementia Friendly Community. Stay tuned on our website and newsletter for more information on this amazing program in the near future. 

What advice or tips do you have for Volunteers?

Find an organization you can relate to. If you like to read, try reading to an older adult with low vision. Get to know the organization’s purpose, the people, and their needs. Ask! What can I do to help? Maybe they need a driver to assist clients, someone to shovel a walkway, assist with an organization’s specific program or event, even research a project. The sky is the limit. Right now Bacoa is looking for volunteers to inventory our lending closet and event closets. We also always need drivers for our Easy Rider Program. As Bacoa reopens from the pandemic restrictions, we will need more volunteers to assist with group programs and activities. There are often opportunities for family or a group of friends to work together for a couple of hours. The more the merrier!

Volunteering in your community is a great way to not only give back but to meet people with the same compassion for helping others. We love to hear feedback from our volunteers. What can we do better? Is there a need we are not aware of? The opinions of our volunteers matter to us as it helps us to become a stronger, better nonprofit for our staff, volunteers, and clients.

What advice or tips would you give to other nonprofits that need to utilize volunteers?

Stay organized and include your volunteers in what is going on at your organization. Let them know why you started in the first place, what you are doing now and where you plan to go in the future.  Share your strategic plans to keep them in the loop and give them the opportunity to help achieve those plans. Continual engagement with your organization will keep reliable, consistent volunteers for the future. Embrace all local outlets for volunteers: schools, teachers, community organizations, area libraries, local government organizations, churches, and area businesses.

Can you share your favorite volunteer moment or story?

I coordinate all Bacoa volunteers and the Meals with Wheels program so I have a special place in my heart for the volunteer delivery teams that assist in taking meals to our clients. My favorite memory is watching our seasoned volunteers sort and send out the volunteer team to each of their assigned routes – they have it down to a science. I just stand back, watch and learn. All of our volunteers have great communication and well thought out feedback. They let me know what works and what doesn’t so we can address any issues immediately and efficiently. I look forward to chatting with them every day. 


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