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Military veterans bond through LSS Senior Companion Program

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A decade after Cal St. Sauver and his wife brought the gift of friendship and support to older adults as Senior Companions for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota (LSS), the 89-year-old is receiving the help he needs through a Senior Companion.

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“My wife and I loved helping older adults stay active in their community,” said St. Sauver. “I’m lucky that the same service is here for me.”

Today, St. Sauver lives independently in the home his father built in rural Nisswa.

“When I got married, I vowed to finish our home so my wife and I could raise our family here,” St. Sauver said. “I’m not ready to leave this place, and the help I get from John means I don’t have to.”

John Barber spent 32 years as an elementary school teacher. After retirement, he needed to find a way to fill the extra time in his days.

“As an educator, I worked to make a difference for children,” Barber said. “I can still make a difference as a Senior Companion.”

Barber serves with the new Boomer Corps project at LSS, offering meaningful service opportunities to volunteers who can commit to 10 hours per week to help others.

St. Sauver and Barber enjoy serving their communities, but serving their country was most important to them. After enlisting in the Navy in 1942, St. Sauver was a machine gun operator trained in wireless radio communication during World War II. Barber is a Vietnam War -era veteran.

“We’ve talked about our experiences and how similar they were,” Barber said. “Serving in the military is an experience that is hard to understand unless you’ve lived through it. It’s pretty neat that we can relate to each other like that.”

“Senior Companions are reaching out to assist more military veterans like Cal,” said Marcia Ferris, regional program manager for Lutheran Social Service. “Cal was a valued volunteer who impacted the lives of many older adults. It’s wonderful to be able to support him now.”

Each week, St. Sauver and Barber spend time playing cribbage and going to town for medical appointments and grocery shopping. Sometimes, it’s nice just talking and hanging out with St. Sauver’s dog, Buddy.

“This summer, we’re hitting the open road,” Barber said. “Cal lives out in the country, so I’ll ride the lawnmower while he and Buddy ride in his new electric scooter. I’m really looking forward to more time together.”

For more information on the Senior Companion Program, email seniorcorps@lssmn.org or call 888-205-3770.

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Denton (Denny) Newman Jr.
I've worked at the Brainerd Dispatch with various duties since Dec. 7, 1983. Starting off as an Ad Designer and currently Director of Audience Development. The Dispatch has been an interesting and challenging place to work. I'm fortunate to have made many friends, both co-workers and customers.
(218) 855-5889
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