September marked the 31st year that the Massachusetts Money Management Program (MMMP) has been helping adults over 60, and adults living with a disability, maintain their independence. Without the program, many individuals would face food insecurity, financial exploitation, eviction, and premature institutionalization.
LifePath’s Money Management program, sponsored in part by the Executive Office of Elder Affairs, promotes and prolongs independent living for individuals over 60 who are at risk because of difficulties managing their finances. We accomplish this by training volunteers to visit elders’ homes to help with balancing checkbooks, sorting bills, developing a household budget, monitoring income and expenses, writing checks for the client to sign, and developing debt repayment plans. We are also representative payees for a small group of people who have services through LifePath. As a representative payee, LifePath manages SSA financial benefits for people whom a medical professional has deemed at risk of harm due to their inability to manage their personal finances. We serve all of Franklin County and the towns of Athol, Petersham, Phillipston, and Royalston. Everyone over 60 is eligible for services and, for most, the service is free, while for some there is an affordable fee.
Of course, LifePath’s Money Management program could not exist without its volunteers devoting their individual time and effort toward supporting their neighbors in our communities. Currently we have 10 active volunteers and they are the soul of the program with their dedication, hard work, and oftentimes going beyond for their clients. Initially, volunteers are trained in Money Management program policies and procedures and attend quarterly meetings both for training, updates, and, most importantly, to mingle with other Money Management volunteers for support, shared experiences, and camaraderie.
Everyone over 60 is eligible for services and, for most, the service is free, while for some there is an affordable fee.
Money Management volunteer Sue Dunbar says, “My goal as a volunteer in the Money Management Program is twofold: establishing a monthly budget to keep elders cognizant of their daily/weekly spending, and to assure them their funds are safe and secure in this highly supervised and well-run program. In the absence of a home health aide, I am often the only person checking in on the lives of these consumers who may be alone for days at a time. It is a pleasure for me to serve in this capacity.”
LifePath’s Money Management Program is currently assisting a couple who were victims of financial exploitation by a close family member and had fallen several months behind on their bills. We were able to facilitate agreements with the utility, phone, and cable companies in order to avoid any shut offs. Applications were submitted for fuel assistance and SNAP benefits as well. This couple is now secure in knowing they can remain in their home of 25 years indefinitely.
Often, the Money Management volunteer is the only person visiting the client a few times a month and we have been successful with proactively supporting clients by advocating for necessary in-home services in order for the individual to remain in their home. Due to a volunteer’s observation and the Money Management program’s auditing process, we discovered that a client was feeling bullied by a family member and therefore giving them money out of fear of reprisal. An investigation confirmed our suspicions and supports were put in place to aid the person in feeling safe. Also, during the pandemic, Money Management volunteers continued checking in by phone and meeting clients outside whenever possible. Some volunteers continued meeting the needs of clients by making home visits with PPE protection.
A consumer recently wrote a note to me saying, in part, “I can’t thank my Money Management volunteer enough for helping me out for many years. I am ill and will need more support and I am moving to The Arbors, in Greenfield. I am so happy that my Money Management volunteer will continue helping me out and making sure my bills are paid. Plus, she always has a nice welcoming smile on her face.”
If you are looking for a rewarding experience where you know you are needed and are interested in doing good for a person in your community, then LifePath’s Money Management program might be for you! Also, if anyone thinks the program might be of assistance to them or wants more information, please contact me directly by email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at 413-773-5555 or 978-544-2259, X2329.