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Highmark PALS volunteer program celebrates 20 years of helping seniors

More than 88,000 hours of in-home volunteer services provided to seniors since 1997

Highmark Inc.

PITTSBURGH, Pa. (Nov. 8, 2017) — Highmark PALS (People Able to Lend Support), a volunteer program created by Highmark to provide services to its Medicare members who need help with everyday tasks such as grocery shopping, transportation, doctor visits and pet care, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this year.

From its initial pilot in Pittsburgh in 1997, Highmark PALS has grown to a network of nearly 200 volunteers and dedicated more than 88,000 hours of in-home volunteer services to thousands of Highmark Medicare members in 37 counties throughout Pennsylvania and West Virginia — a more than $2.1 million value according to Independent Sector's 2017 volunteer hour valuation of $24.14. Additionally, the program has won numerous awards, including an AHIP Foundation Community Leadership Award, an AARP Excellence Award and a 2017 Pittsburgh Business Times Health Care Heroes Award.

"We are thrilled to be celebrating this major milestone for the Highmark PALS program," said Highmark PALS Coordinator Randy Detweiler. "This program has not only provided great value to our Medicare members over the past two decades by helping them maintain their independence, but it also speaks to our broader culture of caring here at Highmark. We are proud to be able to offer this program, which has made a difference in so many people's lives, to our Medicare members."

There is no charge for Highmark Medicare members' participation in Highmark PALS, with all services being offered on a volunteer basis and Highmark Inc. covering program administration costs.

Highmark PALS also provides clubs and programs that aim to help seniors make friends, socialize, get exercise and have new experiences.

  • Book Clubs — Highmark PALS has 32 book club locations throughout 13 counties in which members can read and discuss books. In commemoration of the Highmark PALS program's 20th anniversary, book club members selected their top 20 favorite books from the 197 books read during the past 20 years. View a complete list.
  • Quilt Clubs — In six locations throughout five counties, Highmark PALS members quilt, crochet and knit lap robes to donate to seniors in the community. Since 2000, volunteers have created and donated more than 7,000 lap robes to personal care and nursing homes.
  • Walking Clubs — With participants in 8 locations throughout 7 counties, Highmark PALS Walking Club members meet to walk for exercise. Walking Club members have walked a combined 18 million steps, or 9,125 miles, since the clubs' inception.

The Highmark PALS services are available to any Security Blue HMO, Community Blue Medicare HMO, Community Blue Medicare PPO, Freedom Blue PPO, or Medigap 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 Inc.

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 Inc. and affiliates operate health insurance plans in Pennsylvania, Delaware and West Virginia that serve 5 million members and hundreds of thousands of additional members through the BlueCard® program. Its diversified businesses serve group customer and individual needs across the United States through dental insurance, vision care and other related businesses. Highmark Inc. 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:
Kristy Cramlet
Highmark Health
304-424-9888
kristy.cramlet@highmarkhealth.org