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MAC, Inc.: Getting Results

December 2, 2013 in Engaging Wisdom

MAC Inc photoAt Maintaining Active Citizens (MAC, Inc.), they really get it. They have let go of old notions about volunteering, and they are empowering volunteers to get involved in self-directed teams through the new PowerUP! model.

Just look at the minimal investment it took for this Area Agency on Aging in Salisbury, Maryland, to avoid having its staff, social workers, and case managers overwhelmed with cases and growing waiting lists. MAC, Inc. needed more staff to direct older adults and caregivers to available resources but didn’t have the funds.

After a staff member and a seasoned volunteer attended one of the inaugural PowerUP! Institute trainings, Dr. Renée Fredericksen, Special Projects Director at MAC, Inc., and Brenda Granger, Volunteer Lead, decided to enlist a volunteer team to help. Thus the Innovative Caregiver Advisor Network project (I-CAN) was launched to train volunteer navigator teams of mature adults to become experts in navigating the health and human services systems—and to assist older adults, people with disabilities, and caregivers in need.

The trained navigators help older adults and their family members learn about eligible services and navigate the process to obtain these services.  The goal is to prevent low-risk cases from escalating into high-risk cases.  The remaining cases will be referred to staff immediately, allowing case managers to use their expertise with more complex cases.  (Learn how I-CAN was developed.)

The funding is even more exciting. To get I-CAN up and running, MAC, Inc. decided to invest $4,000 for a laptop and iPad for the lead volunteer and $1,000 in the Project Director’s support time. Funds came from the Maryland Home and Community Caregiver Resource Center at MAC, Inc. grant.

This small investment is expected to produce the equivalent of four full-time positions within the next year for the four-county area that MAC, Inc. covers. Thus for an investment of $5,000 to support a lead volunteer who represents about one full-time employee, the return is expected to triple or quadruple in 12 months. This is just the beginning.

What MAC, Inc. has experienced is the multiplier effect of the PowerUP model.  Teams recruit their own members. The success of the “team” in impacting an issue or need spawns additional teams within organizations. Team members become energized to stay and contribute more or empowered to move on to explore new interests and assist the organization in new ways. In only a short period of several months, MAC, Inc. has demonstrated that PowerUP! is transformative for individuals, organizations, and communities. They get it.

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