The Care Links program was established in 1996 with the help of both a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and a Charitable Venture Foundation grant. As of September 2010 Burnt Hills-Ballston Lake Community Human Services, an agency with over three decades of services to families and children in the Southwestern area of Saratoga County assumed the sponsorship of Care Links.

The program’s goal, “Linking Those in Need With Those Who Care,” helps to keep people living independently in their homes as long as possible without duplicating other, well-established services. Care Links was born out of a growing conviction that seniors and their caregivers in need of respite had nowhere to turn. Trained volunteers provide no-cost supportive services to persons 60 and over. Services include: friendly visiting, transportation, respite assistance, shopping and errands, meal preparation, handy helping, telephone reassurance as well as information and referral.

Caregivers served by the program include spouses, siblings, or adult children, but typically they are women caring for a parent, or a spouse. Volunteers give respite, which is vitally important to caregivers. One caregiver declared, “It gives me life!” Volunteers help by serving as extra hands for the caregiver. They shop for food, run errands, make phone calls, provide reassurance by telephone when not on a visit, and relieve the caregiver of other routine tasks. If transportation is needed to a doctor’s office, volunteers will drive, protected by their own insurance and a liability insurance policy covering Community Human Services. Sometimes just being there to talk or even more importantly, to listen to the caregiver, is an invaluable stress reducing technique.

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