A class of eight officially joined the Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults (VASIA) organization of Franciscan Health Hammond during a swearing-in ceremony at Lake Superior Court on Sept. 29.
Lake Superior Court Probate Commissioner Ben Ballou performed the swearing in of the fall 2021 class, telling the volunteers that the court looks to them to fill the void by representing those unable to advocate for themselves. “You’re doing God’s work, and we don’t say that lightly,” he said.
The ceremony was opened with a greeting by VASIA Director LaVonne Jarrett and Program Manager Barbara Melendez. Taking the volunteer affirmation were Dianne Bell, LaRanza Carson, Saundra Wells-Davis, Linda Riley-Flynn, Nakia Hill, Karen Kroczek, Elisa Smith and Lauren Tyner.
VASIA Volunteer Coordinator Francisca Mendoza told the volunteers that by being advocates, they were making a difference. She referenced a quote from Martin Luther King Jr.: “You don’t have to make your subject and verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace. A soul generated by love.”
The VASIA program, instituted in 2001 and the brainchild of then-hospital President Tom Gryzbek, is a collaborative effort between the hospital and Lake County Superior Courts. It provides trained and supervised volunteers to serve as court-appointed legal guardians to assist the elderly and incapacitated adults. The volunteers assist the courts with decision-making. VASIA also partners with service delivery programs to develop a continuum of elder law advocacy and guardianship services in the Region. Volunteers in the VASIA Program complete a training program and serve as a limited guardian for one case at a time.
Brian Drummond, a VASIA specialist and licensed social worker, told the group that he saw common themes as “three Cs”: Contribution is volunteers choosing to contribute in their own special way; cohesiveness is the glue that holds the program together; and creativity is the unique perspectives individuals bring to their approach. Whatever that approach, Drummond added that “unity of purpose is key.”
Franciscan Health Foundation – Central Indiana Director of Development MinDee Richard underlined the importance of informing the community about the work VASIA volunteers do with their clients. The program is partially funded by grants from the Indiana Supreme Court, Retirement Research Foundation, Indiana Bar Foundation, Arc Bridges, Legacy Foundation, Inc. and other local, state and national funders and generous local donors. To donate, go to FranciscanHealthFoundation.org; and to learn more about the program or find out how to become a volunteer, visit www.franciscanhealth.org/VASIA.