A Brief Historical Perspective

Oakmont Volunteer Helpers held its organizational meeting December 4, 1981 as Friends of Hospice, a special unit under the umbrella of Home Hospice of Sonoma County. “Our purpose was to serve our neighbors who were ill, or who need non-nursing care or who need respite care for a spouse, shopping, driving, reading, playing cards, visiting shutins, and also to refer those who need other services to other health agencies.” (FOH minutes). We incorporated in April 2010 and were recognized as a 501(c)(3) entity in 2011. The name was changed to Oakmont Volunteer Helpers in January 1983 and our role modified over time primarily to one of providing rides to medical appointments.

A 1982 year-end summary noted 62 volunteers provided 380 hours of service for 50 residents, provided approximately 418 hours of service, driving for 201 appointments in 2010, and nearly double the rides in 2019. At that time we had over 90 residents on our ride roster and over 60 drivers. As a result of the pandemic we now have less than 40 on our roster and just over 30 drivers, though still providing about 30-35 rides/month.

At the suggestion of OVH Board member Vickie Jackanich, based on her experience caring for her husband, the Caregiver Support Group was started, with its first meeting held on September 10, 2014. This professionally facilitated group meets twice monthly, on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays, and is currently conducted via Zoom. According to Dorothy Foster, MFT, who facilitates the group, “If you are caring for your spouse, or parent, or a dear friend, you are welcome to join us… It doesn’t matter if your loved one lives with you, in his or her own home, or in a facility. More than anything, the group is an opportunity for people to share common concerns, as well as get tips from others on how to manage the normal frustrations and strains of caregiving, and laugh together, too.” (Oakmont News, Sept. 1, 2014) We are very grateful to the Oakmont Community Foundation its support. Contact Vickie (707-280-3705) for information.

Throughout over 40 years of service in Oakmont, OVH has been constantly in need of drivers and ride coordinators. Typically drivers drive once a month, with the average commitment of about 2 hours. It is a wonderful way not only to be of service but also to get to know some of your neighbors along the way. And one never knows when they may need a ride! Coordinators work from home, on average a hour or less a day, during a 2 week shift. They are a critical element in making OVH the successful and well-appreciated community service it has become. We on the Board NEED and welcome your participation. Contact Matt Zwerling (707-539-8996) for information.

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