SHINE MCP seeks bilingual volunteers

GLADES & HENDRY COUNTIES — Serving Health Insurance Needs of Elders, or SHINE, is seeking bilingual volunteers to assist non-English speaking Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers. In particular, the program seeks volunteers that are fluent in both Spanish and English. Volunteers that are bilingual in English and Haitian Creole are also needed.

SHINE is an award-winning information and counseling program that is administered by the Florida Department of Elder Affairs and operated locally by the Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida. SHINE volunteer counselors provide free, unbiased, confidential Medicare counseling and other health insurance counseling and information to help Medicare beneficiaries, their families and caregivers understand their healthcare options.

“About one in seven Southwest Florida households speak Spanish as their primary language,” explains Camilita Aldridge, SHINE liaison at the agency. “By training bilingual volunteers, we can ensure that our non-English-speaking seniors are able to receive counseling and fully understand their benefits and insurance options.”

SHINE volunteers have the opportunity to perform a variety of functions, including providing counseling on Medicare, Medicaid, health insurance and prescription drug plans. SHINE volunteers may also deliver educational presentations in the community and participate in health fairs and outreach events. In 2017, 60 local SHINE volunteers helped more than 9,400 clients in Southwest Florida. In total, the agency’s SHINE volunteers provided more than 5,750 hours of counseling last year.

Requirements to become a SHINE volunteer include an interest in assisting seniors and people with disabilities, along with basic computer knowledge and internet navigation skills. A background in healthcare or insurance is not required. Specialized training and informational materials are provided to all SHINE volunteers, and volunteers are reimbursed for mileage to training and counseling sites. Potential SHINE volunteers may contact Camilita Aldridge, SHINE liaison, at (239) 652-6900 for more information about volunteer opportunities or to apply. Volunteer applications can also be found at the State of Florida’s SHINE website at www.floridashine.org.

The Area Agency on Aging for Southwest Florida is a nonprofit organization serving Charlotte, Collier, DeSoto, Glades, Hendry, Lee and Sarasota counties, and is the state’s designated Aging and Disability Resource Center for Southwest Florida. The organization is committed to connecting older adults and adults with disabilities to resources and assistance for living safely with independence and dignity. More information is available at www.aaaswfl.org or by calling the toll-free Helpline at 866-413-5337 (866-41-ELDER).

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