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Highmark PALS program provides 4,200 hours of in-home volunteer services to seniors in Pennsylvania and West Virginia

Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

PITTSBURGH (May 4, 2016) — In 2015, Highmark PALS (People Able to Lend Support) dedicated 4,200 hours of in-home volunteer services to senior Medicare members in Pennsylvania and West Virginia — a more than $100,000 value according to Independent Sector's 2015 volunteer hour valuation of $23.40.

Highmark PALS is a volunteer program created by Highmark in 1997 to provide services to senior citizens, ranging from transportation assistance to pet care, that enable them to maintain their independence as long as possible. There is no charge for seniors' participation in Highmark PALS, with all services being offered on a volunteer basis and Highmark Inc. covering program administration costs.

"Grocery shopping, transportation to the doctor's office and running errands are easy tasks for most of us, but as people grow older, those activities can become more challenging. To help ease the burden for seniors, the Highmark PALS program helps seniors maintain their independence through the support of volunteers," said PALS Program Coordinator Randy Detweiler.

Throughout 2015, 163 Highmark PALS volunteers completed 3,731 assistance assignments, including:

  • Transportation assistance
  • Phone reassurance
  • Friendly visits
  • Pet care
  • Shopping for and/or with recipients
  • Pet therapy
  • Home cleaning (dusting/vacuuming)
  • Home repairs
  • Respite care
  • Laundry
  • Yard work

Highmark PALS also provides clubs and programs for participants, Detweiler explains.

"Additionally, we aim to help seniors make friends, socialize, get exercise and have new experiences through clubs and events. This interaction helps to reduce their isolation and stimulate their minds."

  • Book Clubs — Highmark PALS has 32 book club locations throughout 13 counties in which members can read and discuss books. In 2015, the book club members read more than 3,000 books. The Highmark PALS program also supports inter-generational book clubs where teen groups read the same book as Highmark PALS members, and then the two groups meet to discuss.
  • Quilt Clubs — In eight locations throughout six counties, Highmark PALS members quilt, crochet and knit lap robes to donate to seniors in the community. 47 volunteers worked 12,981 hours to create 470 lap robes in 2015.
  • Walking Clubs — With participants in 17 locations throughout 11 counties, Highmark PALS Walk Club members meet to walk for exercise. In 2015, they walked a combined 27.4 million steps — more than 13,000 miles or half way around the equator.

The Highmark PALS services are available to any Security Blue HMO, Community Blue Medicare HMO, Freedom Blue PPO or Medigap Blue member who resides in the following counties:

Pennsylvania — Adams, Allegheny, Armstrong, Beaver, Bedford, Berks, Blair, Butler, Cambria, Crawford, Cumberland, Dauphin, Erie, Fayette, Greene, Indiana, Lackawanna, Lancaster, Lawrence, Lebanon, Lehigh, Luzerne, Mercer, Northampton, Perry, Somerset, Washington, Westmoreland and York.

West Virginia — Brooke, Cabell, Kanawha, Monongalia, Ohio, Putnam, Wetzel and Wood.

Individuals interested in learning more about no-cost Highmark PALS program participation or Highmark PALS volunteer opportunities should call 1-800-988-0706.

About Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield

Highmark Inc. and its health insurance subsidiaries and affiliates collectively are among the ten largest health insurers in the United States and comprise the fourth-largest Blue Cross and Blue Shield-affiliated organization. Highmark and its diversified businesses and affiliates operate health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5.2 million members and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the Blue Card program. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance, vision care and other related businesses. Highmark is an independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association, an association of independent Blue Cross and Blue Shield companies. For more information, visit www.highmark.com.

For more information, contact:
David Misner
Highmark Health
717-302-3638
david.misner@highmarkhealth.org