- Senior Outreach
McFarland Senior Outreach relies on our fabulous crew of dedicated volunteers to be able to provide the services and programs for older adults in the community. We are always recruiting volunteers for our team.
If you would like to devote some of your time and energy to support seniors, email McFarland Senior Outreach or call at 608-838-7117.
All volunteers must fill out the following two forms. Additional forms may be required for some volunteer positions. We partner with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Dane County for volunteer coordination, training, and insurance.
The McFarland Volunteer Program proudly presents Rolfe Nervig for this issue of Volunteer Spotlight. Rolfe has served in numerous volunteer roles for McFarland Senior Outreach, including as a Meals on Wheels Delivery Driver, a Senior Coffee Hour host, and as a Medical Ride Driver Escort. He has established himself as a versatile, generous, and reliable member of the Senior Outreach volunteer team.
Rolfe is no stranger to community service. Growing up in Minnesota, he learned the value of service from his mother, a devoted educator who modeled the importance of involvement in community and church volunteerism. After graduating from Luther College, Rolfe married his college sweetheart Mary and they settled down in the Milwaukee area where he established his career with non-profit work. This included his position as Director of Refugee Resettlement for Lutheran Social Services, where he linked refugees from South East Asia, displaced due to the Vietnam War conflict, with sponsors, supports, and services in Wisconsin.
As their family grew to include 4 children, Rolfe eventually shifted into work in the business sector, at Master Blueprints/Master Graphics. He went on to collaboratively develop the Corporate Learning Center at Edgewood College, which offered leadership development seminars for students in business.
Rolfe has consistently centered himself in a steadfast commitment to service throughout his life. Utilizing his skills, talents, and experience, he has found opportunities to give back to the community in significant ways. Rolfe particularly enjoys “coordinating and thinking outside the box.” He has used his leadership skills as a member of multiple boards and committees, such as the Marquardt Village Foundation Board, where he helped develop the non-profit which now offers continuum of care services for older adults. In 2009, he served as a volunteer loan executive for the United Way Public Appeal Campaign and was instrumental in sourcing donations for their programs. He has served on the Advisory Board for Off the Square, an organization located in downtown Madison that serves homeless individuals with serious addition and mental illness. In recent years he helped to raise $70,000 for upgraded, secure showers at the facility for their consumers.
Rolfe explained, “I have intentionally been transitioning from leadership roles to more one on one volunteering in the past few years.” He enjoys volunteering for the Meals on Wheels and Medical Ride programs through McFarland Senior Outreach because he has the ability to, “fill that need for someone and have a positive impact on their life.” Rolfe explains, “these volunteer roles have given me the opportunity to learn about a variety of people and get to know some real characters!” Rolfe radiates warmth and kindness, and his convivial personality invites a genuine connection with our staff, volunteers, and consumers. McFarland Senior Outreach and the McFarland Volunteer Program thank Rolfe for his dedication to service!
The McFarland Volunteer Program is delighted to recognize Carolyn Grede for this issue of the Volunteer Spotlight for her dedicated commitment to volunteerism with the E.D. Locke Public Library and the broader community.
Carolyn moved to McFarland with her husband John in 2014 after retiring as a School Library & Media Specialist. Shortly after settling in, she attended a Friends of E.D. Locke Public Library meeting and offered to volunteer. Since then, she has taken on the role of co-coordinator of the Used Book Sale events, along with Michele Stoffel Rosalis. Together they lead the events by organizing the sale materials, promoting through local media, and coordinating volunteers. They have taken the challenges of the last couple of years in stride and developed some creative strategies to be able to continue the book sales with safety in mind. Previously, the book sales would take place in a small room inside the library. However, the tight space was not ideal for shoppers during the pandemic. The June and September 2021 book sales were moved outdoors with the books arranged on tables with open-air canopies overhead. Once colder weather hit, the December sale resumed indoors in the larger Community Room at the library to accommodate more space. Carolyn was very pleased explaining, “the sales in 2021 were incredibly successful with a great turnout due to a group effort made possible by the best volunteers!” Carolyn joined the E.D. Locke Public Library of McFarland Endowment Fund Committee as another way to support the mission of our local library. Carolyn enthused, “our library is incredibly vibrant, and I particularly enjoy working with Heidi Cox, the Director of the E.D. Locke Library to help facilitate her creative vision for innovative and proactive programs and ideas.”
Carolyn extends her love of reading to her neighborhood, where she has coordinated a book club for the last 6 years. The literary circle has led to interesting discussions and a needed diversion during these difficult times. As an active member of the McFarland Lutheran Church, Carolyn volunteered to organize the lending library there as well. She upgraded the system with the online cataloging system Tiny Cat to make the holdings more accessible and continues to promote learning and literacy by encouraging parishioners to utilize the library there.
Carolyn’s volunteerism extends beyond the literary realm as well. With her spare time, she has brushed up on her knitting skills and joined the board of the Madison Knitters Guild, where she serves as the Newsletter Chair. Locally, she started the knitting group, “Yarn and Yakking,” which has grown to include an active base of fiber arts hobbyists. The group had been meeting in person but moved to a virtual meet-up via Zoom on a bi-weekly basis during the pandemic. The group serves as a creative sounding board for knitters of all skill levels—novice to experienced, as well as a supportive format to connect. When she isn’t volunteering, she enjoys spending time with her husband biking and camping. We would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to Carolyn for her dedication to this community.
McFarland Volunteer Program is delighted to recognize Tim McDowell for his ongoing commitment to volunteering for McFarland Senior Outreach Services. Tim has become an integral member of the volunteer team of drivers for the Meals on Wheels program, delivering meals to homebound older adults five days per week for the last 2 years.
Tim grew up in the Madison area, attended MATC and started his career as a printer working on Madison’s northside. Yet, he found that he gravitated towards work in the social services arena and embarked on a new career path working with people with disabilities. Since the 1980s Tim has dedicated his time and energy supporting individuals with cognitive disabilities and hearing impairments. Tim worked with organizations that prioritized the independence and dignity of people with disabilities including St. Coletta, Bethesda, and Opportunities, Inc. He became fluent in American Sign Language and has established many meaningful connections with members of the hearing-impaired community, and he continues to volunteer with individuals to provide support and assistance. Tim was able to dedicate his free time as a volunteer EMT in Milton and expanded on that role to work in the community as a CPR instructor.
Upon retirement, Tim relocated to McFarland in 2011 to be closer to family. He has taken up the mantle of “key keeper” at his apartment complex and is there to assist his neighbors when needed. He helps to plan events, potlucks, and holiday celebrations. This past Thanksgiving, residents were not able to gather due to COVID-19, but Tim was on hand to package up and deliver Thanksgiving meals with all the trimmings to their doors.
Tim was introduced to McFarland Senior Outreach when he attended a Christmas party a few years ago. He began attending regular senior meals and inquired about taking on a volunteer role. He proved to be versatile, picking up volunteer shifts as a kitchen helper until he settled into his steadfast role as a regular delivery driver for one of the rural Meals on Wheels routes. Tim has a gentle, easy-going manner and, although we cannot see his ever-present smile under the required face masks these days, his eyes radiate his good humor and kindness all the same. Tim enjoys volunteering as it allows him an opportunity to meet new people, but emphasized that more than anything he, “likes making people smile.” The folks on his delivery route are happy to oblige and look forward to seeing him every day.
Retired Nurse Shifts focus to Behind the Wheel
The saying goes that ‘a retired nurse never stops nurturing and caring,’ and volunteer driver Monica Sitter proves that to be true. Shortly after retiring from her 35-year career as a mental health nurse, Sitter registered as a volunteer Driver Escort out of McFarland Senior Center providing medical appointment rides to seniors in the area. “I was looking for something to do when I retired, and this was similar to parts of the work I did in my job, where I was often responsible for taking veterans to their appointments,” Sitter said.
Aside from its sense of familiarity, volunteering as a driver attracted Sitter because of the interaction with people. “This is a good way to stay connected to the community,” Sitter shared. “It’s enjoyable to meet other members of the community. You can make nice connections with people over time.”
It’s widely accepted that social isolation is now considered a top health risk, and Sitter understands the impact that providing rides has on people without personal transportation. “A lot of the passengers do not have means to get to an appointment,” she said. “They might have family, but their family is working, and they have no other resources to get them to their appointment. So my experience has been very positive -- the passengers are very grateful to you and appreciative of your time.”
In addition to the satisfaction of knowing she is truly helping someone, there are other benefits to the job. “What I like is that it’s flexible,” she said. “You can give whatever you have time for and if you don’t have time, then you can say no without any pressure. And Katie gives enough notice so I have time to plan.”
Because Sitter and her husband-of-37-years Woody Kneppreth live active, busy lives, this flexibility is key to sticking with this important volunteer role. (And no surprise, Kneppreth also volunteers as a driver for the Driver Escort program, as well as the Vets Helping Vets program.) Sitter also volunteers as a substitute meal delivery driver and meal packer at the senior center, and has been seen helping with the newsletter mailing too.
During her down time, Sitter golfs, rides her e-bike, reads, takes daily trips to the dog park and she is a self-proclaimed cross-word puzzle addict. She also helps care for her 98-year-old father who lives with her sister nearby. During pre-pandemic times, she and Kneppreth travelled frequently and are eagerly awaiting being able to finally visit Ecuador after cancelling the trip three times!
The Driver Escort and Vets Helping Vets passenger services need drivers in the McFarland area and in all Dane County communities. Drivers are offered reimbursement at .56 cents/mile and provided with additional liability insurance. RSVP provides PPE supplies. Drivers must be vaccinated and starting on October 15, this will be a requirement for passengers as well. The service operates weekdays, 8:30-am to 3:30pm. For more information, contact Mary Schmelzer at firstname.lastname@example.org or 608-441-7896.
Meals on Wheels Driver
Volunteer drivers deliver meals to homebound seniors Monday through Friday for the noon-time meal. Our service area includes the Village of McFarland as well as the Town of Dunn and the Town of Pleasant Springs. Each day we serve between 60 to 75 meals on five different routes. The delivery drivers pick up individually packaged meals from the McFarland Municipal Center (5915 Milwaukee Street) on a staggered schedule between 10:50 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. The routes each take between approximately 60 to 90 minutes in length to complete. Volunteers indicate if they would like to volunteer for a regular shift(s) or serve as a substitute driver as needed. Additional liability insurance is provided. Mileage reimbursement is available.
Driver Escort for Medical Appointments
Volunteers for the Driver Escort program transport seniors to and from medical appointments. This may include primary care, dental, physical therapy, etc.. This is only for non-urgent medical care. Seniors need to be able to get into and out of vehicles with minimal assistance. Appointments must be between the hours of 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. The volunteers submit general availability and if a request is made, volunteers may accept or decline the ride. Drivers and passengers for the Driver Escort program are required to provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination and complete the HIPPA form.
Volunteers help to portion and package bulk meal items for Meals on Wheels recipients who receive the noon-time home-delivered meals. Kitchen assistants also help to set up and serve the in-person meals on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. Volunteers arrive at the Municipal Center at 10:30 a.m. Commitment is usually one hour to 90 minutes per day. At this time we are recruiting for a substitute Kitchen Assistant to fill in shifts as needed.
RSVP Foster Grandparent Program
The Foster Grandparent Program is seeking volunteers to engage with young students at the Conrad Elvehjem Primary School in McFarland. The program offers adults, age 55 and older, the opportunity to share their time, knowledge, and life experience as a mentor and a role model to elementary-aged children in a school setting. No experience is necessary, just a desire to help! Foster Grandparents are caring individuals who devote 5 hours or more a week helping children become motivated learners and succeed in life. If income-eligible, volunteers are paid a tax-exempt stipend and travel costs. For more information, call 608-238-7787 or visit www.rsvpdane.org
Coffee Hour Assistant
Volunteers help to set up, serve and clean up for our monthly Coffee and Conversation Group. Assistant arrives at 8:30 a.m. and shift is completed by 10:30 a.m. The group meets at the McFarland Municipal Building Community Room during cold months and at local park shelters during the warm months.
McFarland Senior Outreach mails up to 500 newsletters every month. Volunteers help to collate, fold, tape, and label newsletters to mail. Flexible scheduling. We are also looking for a newsletter courier who can distribute newsletters to local businesses and senior housing.
*NEW* Senior Social Group Facilitator
McFarland Senior Outreach would like to foster opportunities for seniors to connect and socialize, both virtually and in-person. If you would like to help build community with other seniors, and are savvy with online media, this might be the perfect opportunity for you! Meetup is an online service that provides a forum that we are eager to try. There are many other Meetup groups that exist in the Madison area, but we would like to create a group specific to McFarland-area older adults. McFarland Senior Outreach would host several in-person (pending COVID-19 status) get togethers throughout the year. Our goal, over time, is for this to be a catalyst for social connections amongst seniors who may then have a platform to advocate and implement recreational and social activities of their choosing. This would not be a dating website, nor would this be exclusive to singles. Visit the Meetup website for information.
Would you like to gather with seniors to play cards or other games? Euchre, bingo, rummy, bridge... the possibilities go on and on. If you enjoy non-competitive game play, consider volunteering as the Games Coordinator at McFarland Senior Outreach. The coordinator plans and manages a weekly meeting. McFarland Senior Outreach will provide the space and the materials.