CARY — Few appreciate Elliot Paulis volunteer work more than Chris Tobin.
Tobin, 58, had a stroke a few years ago. He can still get around and take care of himself, but he needs help with more intensive household chores like moving the microwave or nailing the mailbox to its post.
Thats where Pauli comes in. Hes one of about 500 people who help senior citizens and the disabled through The Center for Volunteer Caregiving, a Cary-based nonprofit.
Its a lifesaver, and Im not exaggerating, Tobin says.
The center and its volunteers gained new admirers earlier this month. GlaxoSmithKline and the Triangle Community Foundation awarded the nonprofit $40,000 through the GSK IMPACT award.
The award was given to nine organizations for their work in building healthier communities. A national panel of health experts chose the winners after evaluating more than 60 applicants.
There is an important connection between our health and our community, said Katie Loovis, director of U.S. community partnerships and stakeholder engagement for GSK. The more we understand this connection, the more we can improve it. And The Center for Volunteer Caregiving shows us how its done.
The center, which has six employees, has an annual budget of about $300,000 and serves clients anywhere in Wake County.
It offers three types of caregiving: transportation services; caregiver support, where volunteers pitch in for those who treat people with Alzheimers disease or dimentia; and in-home connections, where volunteers stop by clients homes to make sure theyre living in a healthy and safe environment.
The award money will help the center buy software for building a better database that connects volunteers to clients, said Lynn Templeton, the centers director.
Were trying to address that 30 percent (of volunteers) finding us online and make it easier for staff to manage our matchups, she said.
The database will pair up nicely with the online training the center recently set up for its volunteers. Training takes about an hour, and asks applicants to provide a Social Security number for a background check.
Templeton said the center is devoted to protecting its clients while also trying to make volunteering as easy as possible.
There are no fees for the centers services a main reason why it consistently has more clients than volunteers.
We constantly have a wait list. Well get the list down under 100 and well get five more referrals the next day, Templeton said.
Pauli, 34, works in global health with the Research Triangle Institute. He signed up to volunteer a couple months ago because its spiritually fulfilling.
There are people that need help right in my backyard, he said.
Specht: 919-460-2608; Twitter: @AndySpecht