Alum’s program aids seniors

Chris Schneider wants to give back to a community that has given him so much in the past.

Schneider, a St. John’s graduate of the class of 1968, is the program manager of the Northeast Queens Visiting Program. This is a volunteer program that covers 10 communities within Northeast Queens, including Flushing, Bayside, Fresh Meadows, Glen Oaks, Little Neck, and other neighborhoods.

The program consists of volunteers from various age groups who take time out of their busy schedules to assist homebound senior citizens. Its motto is “Make Somebody’s Day.”

This goal is accomplished with the help of volunteers who do different tasks for the elderly that they can no longer do by themselves. These tasks include shopping (grocery and other), light chores (such as raking leaves in the fall), transportation (to church and other locations), and sometimes a friendly visit or a walk around the block.

The program requires only one hour a week or a month from volunteers, and they are extremely flexible with anyone’s schedule. A volunteer may do more hours, but that is strictly up to the participant.

The Northeast Queens Visiting Program began on August 15, 2005. It is the third branch of the volunteer program, following the Brooklyn and Manhattan branches. It is sponsored by Builders for the Family and Youth, an extension of the Catholic Charities Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens. It is funded by City Meals On Wheels.

The participants in the program hope to help those who can no longer help themselves, to make a contribution to someone’s life, and to instill some hope in seniors in the long run. They want to impact the lives of those that society often overlooks.

Schneider shared an experience where one senior citizen approached him after his time with a volunteer and could not thank Schneider enough for what the program has done in his life.

“These are the moments that make it all worthwhile,” Schneider said with a smile.

Schneider received his bachelors in business from St. John’s and his masters from City University. He was a teacher for 33 years and retired four and a half years ago. He now devotes all of his time to the growth of the visiting program. Schneider is glad to come back to St. John’s and to be able to give students the chance to contribute to a great community.

Some of the characteristics the program directors look for in a volunteer are kindness, honesty, compassion, friendliness, and a warm smile.

Someone with a car is preferred, but arrangements can be made for interested people who do not have one. Schneider has been going around to various colleges and universities in the area hoping to recruit people who fit these qualifications.

Since the program is fairly new, he would like it to gain momentum and have many participants. He has put up fliers all over campus in order to stir up interest in the program.

Additional infomation and applications can be obtained from Tori Migliori in Campus Ministry.