Jefferson Area Board for Aging’s Friends in Schools Helping (FISH) program, an intergenerational school-based mentoring program that provides volunteer mentors to students who need individualized attention (and which adapted in 2020 to provide those services virtually), won the $3,000 second place Best Practices Award from the Commonwealth Council on Aging, an advisory board within the Virginia Department for Aging and Rehabilitative Services.
Established in 2004, FISH is an intergenerational school-based mentoring program that provides volunteer mentors to students who need individualized attention.
During the 2019-2020 school year, 58 FISH volunteers provided support to more than 1,370 students in 21 schools, providing over 2,250 hours of individualized mentoring attention to students, a value of over $61,000 to local communities.
“The pandemic disproportionately affected older Virginians in so many heartbreaking ways. Not only did we experience so much tragic illness and loss of life, older Virginians became immeasurably isolated from their families, friends and community supports. Many of the Best Practices Awards and Honorable Mentions leveraged technologies and communities to help older Virginians stay connected and receive the support they needed,” said Council Best Practices Committee Chair Kathryn Reid.
Established in 2006, the Best Practices Awards recognize and encourage the replication of model programs, particularly those that foster aging in place, livable communities and home and community-based services. With financial support from Dominion Energy, the council encourages the development of these innovative programs.
In lieu of in-person recognition ceremonies at this time, the agency will plan a virtual webinar and reception to highlight the 2021 winners. To learn about this year’s Best Practices Award winners and honorable mentions or the Commonwealth Council on Aging, visit https://vda.virginia.gov/boardsandcouncils.htm.