Loudoun County, Va.
The Community Ambassador Program provides volunteers in senior communities and gathering places to increase awareness about county services. The purpose is to reduce abuse, neglect and financial exploitation by raising awareness and conducting outreach to communities where seniors gather. Volunteers receive training on local wellness and safety programs and services for seniors, and disseminate pertinent information (such as services available through government and private entities) to their communities. They likewise serve as the seniors’ point of contact. Ambassadors connect older adults to the Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and other county departments, which in turn extends AAA’s reach into the community. A further intent of the program is to increase prevention behaviors, while reducing required interventions pertaining to elder abuse and fraud. For instance, ambassadors serve as “confidantes” to those in their communities; the willingness of a fellow community member to report suspicion of exploitation or abuse is more likely to be shared with a peer than a mandated reporter. By educating and enabling an active volunteer base to identify needs within their communities, as well as available programs and services, the opportunities for access to prevention services (e.g., home-delivered meals, caregiver support and adult day centers) greatly increases. Additionally, access to needed services often occurs earlier with ambassador involvement than it would otherwise - if at all - resulting in a higher likelihood of detecting, combating or preventing abuse. Since its inception in September 2014, ninety ambassadors have been trained, resulting in a 421% increase in AAA’s outreach activities. The Ambassador program raises awareness of and access to programs and services provided by county agencies including the Department of Health, Department of Family Services, Fire and Rescue and Sherriff’s Office. These agencies regularly participate in ambassador training sessions to educate trainees about their relevant programs and services.
Mr. Steve Torpy
Director of Parks, Recreation and Community Services