Volunteer opportunity opens up for Maderans


Nugesse Ghebrendrias/The Madera Tribune

HICAP Counselor and Volunteer Coordinator Laura Robinson will be the point of contact for potential volunteers. Robinson’s attention to detail and compassion for the community she serves is evident.

The Valley Caregiver Resource Center is currently looking for dedicated and motivated individuals to assist the Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP) located in Fresno.


Fresno and Madera HICAP assists all Medicare Beneficiaries. HICAP counselors are registered with the State and are a Federally recognized State Health Insurance Program (SHIP). HICAP counselors provide assistance with Medicare benefits and rights, appeals and billing problems, Medicare Advantage Plans, Prescription Drug Coverage, Medicare Fraud and Abuse, and much more.


“It’s a big commitment,” HICAP Program Manager Jennifer Webb said. “It is a lot of patience; it’s a lot of learning and above all compassion.”


As part of HICAP, volunteers will give back to their community by assisting Medicare beneficiaries within Madera County. Volunteers will undergo training (either online or in the office) to meet the demands of the program. Volunteers will help form a vital link between the community and VCRC’s HICAP program.


“I have a very strong feeling that it is important to be active in your community. Being a HICAP volunteer allows me to be active, and helpful, in the community,” current volunteer Wayne McMillen said. “It is a rewarding activity that allows contribution to the citizens of the area. It is incredibly rewarding to know that, in some small way, you have given someone a lift.


“A lot of the information received from family or friends, although well meaning, is often wrong and can leave a senior citizen with a tangled, expensive mess on their hands. Consulting with a trained HICAP counselor can avoid all that.”


As more and more community members in Madera become Medicare eligible, it is imperative to be able to meet the demand of Maderans who need guidance. Many have no one to turn to for help in enrolling, selecting plans and understanding the benefits and cost.


In 2018 data from the census showed that 77.1 percent of the people in Madera are Hispanic (more than 49,000 people). Moving into 2021, that number has only increased.


“HICAP and their well-trained volunteers are able to work with them to select plans that fit their budget and needs for medical care. The volunteers can provide accurate information that is tailored to the needs of senior citizens,” McMillen said.


For Webb and her staff at HICAP, having the ability to meet the needs of Spanish speakers is very important. Currently, HICAP has two Spanish speakers on staff and that, according to Webb, needs to increase in order to meet the demand for Medicare beneficiaries in Madera.


Volunteers will work side-by-side with experienced staff — Mayra Guerrero, Laura Robinson and Jean Kendrick, in conjunction with Program Manager Jennifer Webb — to familiarize themselves with the work they will be undertaking.


HICAP volunteers are valuable and assist with all things HICAP including counseling and outreach opportunities. Like the staff at HICAP, Maderans have a chance to make a real and impactful difference in their community and during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s more important than ever to think about those in need.


“We are fortunate to serve our community here in Madera County, many of our clients are Spanish speaking and it is essential to accommodate their needs. We hope to add more resources and Spanish speaking counselors,” Guerrero said. “We have implemented Spanish speaking translators, but the need for Spanish speaking volunteers is far more valuable.”


For those who are interested in giving back to your community as a HICAP Volunteer, contact Laura Robinson the Volunteer Coordinator at HICAP Monday- Friday from 8-5 p.m. at 224-9117 ext. 304 or email lrobinson@valleycrc.org for more information.

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