- Written by Jessica Riel
- Published: 18 February 2018
Margarete Couture and Barbara Watson volunteer as benefits counselors with LifePath. They truly enjoy their work assisting elders and people with disabilities with learning about the benefits to which they are entitled and filling out applications.
“LifePath focuses so much on helping the elders stay as independent as they can in their lives,” says Margarete.
“It’s just nice to be able to reassure them that there is help out there,” says Barbara.
Overseen by Benefits Counseling Program Coordinator Gretchen Smith, volunteer benefits counselors from all over Franklin County and the four Worcester County towns of Athol, Petersham, Phillipston, and Royalston in the North Quabbin help their neighbors access benefits programs offering assistance with home repair, weatherization, fuel assistance, disability modifications, foreclosure protection, utility discounts, and SNAP (food stamps). Usually meeting in an elder’s home or other setting of their choice, the counselors will work with an elder to assess their needs, explain what they can expect, help gather the necessary paperwork, and begin application processes.
Both women agree that LifePath has been a supportive setting for their volunteer experience. “I feel like I can call on somebody. I can certainly call Gretchen,” says Margarete. “She meets you where you’re at as a volunteer.”
Barbara says that Gretchen helps “on all different levels, from running these trainings that we do periodically to refresh our memories on things or to introduce new topics.” She also values being “able to call Gretchen whenever we have a question or an issue or we’re not sure how to proceed. She’s very thorough.”