New members join Franciscan Health's VASIA program • Northwest Indiana Business Magazine

New members join Franciscan Health’s VASIA program

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Lake Superior Court Probate Commissioner Ben Ballou inducted three Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults on March 11.

LaFayetta Boone of Crown Point, Steven Bowling of Portage and Celeste McGill of Chicago are the newest volunteer court-appointed guardians who will serve as advocates for adults.

The Volunteer Advocates for Seniors and Incapacitated Adults program is a collaboration between the court and Franciscan Health. The program provides trained volunteers who assist those who are unable to advocate for their own needs.

“What you’re doing is so important to our community,” Ballou said in a press release. “You’re a voice for the voiceless. You advocate for people who don’t have anyone to advocate for them. From the court’s perspective, you’re filling a huge void for us.”

Francisca Mendoza, VASIA volunteer coordinator, read a quote from Mother Theresa during the ceremony: “Let us touch the dying, the poor, the lonely and the unwanted according to the graces we have received and let us not be ashamed or slow to do the humble work.”

“You will see the dying,” Mendoza said. “You will see the poor and you’ll see the unwanted, by society and their families, but you will become an extension of the family. They’ll look forward to your visits.”

Volunteers are selected through an application screening process. They are trained by legal, social service, health and mental health experts.

Boone, who retired from the U.S. Navy, served as a nurse for 27 years. McGill is a college educator with City Colleges of Chicago. She started her career as a home health social worker. Bowling is a barber who goes to nursing homes to cut residents’ hair free of charge.

“To get a blessing, you’ve got to be a blessing,” Bowling said. “I just like to make others happy.”

The VASIA program serves adults across Lake County. It is in its 22nd year. The program is funded by grants from the Indiana Supreme Court, Legacy Foundation, local, state and national funders, and individual donors.

Caption: From left, Francisca Mendoza, Steven Bowling, LaFayetta Boone, Celeste McGill, Ben Ballou and LaVonne Jarrett. (Photo provided by Franciscan Health)


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