Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota seeks volunteers to help meet an increasing need to provide respite to caregivers. As the population of older Minnesotans grows, so does interest in this service.

This service offers an opportunity for caring individuals to share their skills, meet new people and make a direct difference in people’s lives.

As an AmeriCorps volunteer, Renee Ransom spends a few hours each week with Carol Crust putting together puzzles, grocery shopping, filling the bird feeder and enjoying lunch outings.

This time together means Crust can live by herself in her Brainerd assisted living apartment. It also allowed her daughter, Dee Crust, to move closer to her family in Minneapolis.

“Before Renee came into our life, I was on call 24/7,” Dee Crust said in a news release. “I lived with my mom in Brainerd, so I had to give my life up in order to be here. Without Renee, my mom wouldn’t make it.”

For Ransom, volunteering with AmeriCorps allowed her to remain engaged in her retirement and build a close friendship with Carol and Dee Crust.

“If I could sum up Carol in one word, it would be ‘joy,’” Ransom said in a news release. “When I think of Carol, I think of her as ‘Mom Carol.’ I feel close and connected to Carol and her daughter, and I really care about what happens in their lives. I’m glad to be a part of that.”

AmeriCorps caregiver volunteers meet at the homes of older adults and out in the community, offering caregivers a few hours each week to run errands, catch up with friends and recharge. People who care for loved ones rely on local volunteers like Ransom to provide this life-changing support.

Volunteers earn a $200 monthly stipend and can earn a $1,600 education grant annually, which they can use for tuition and student loans. Volunteers who meet hourly requirements over four years can earn a total of up to $16,000 and those who are 55-plus can choose to put their earnings toward a child's or grandchild’s education fund.

Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota provides volunteers with training, and no prior experience is required. To qualify, volunteers must be at least 17 years old and contribute a few hours each week. They also need a reliable vehicle and to pass a standard background check.

LSS serves all people, and welcomes people from all faith traditions and backgrounds to volunteer. To learn more or to get started, contact Regional Coordinator Mary Smith at 218-203-7312 or mary.smith@lssmn.org, or visit www.lssmn.org/caregiver.