Volunteers Rock: Jamming with the Huron Valley PACE Men’s Group

When Steve Sarns of Dexter joined the UMRC Foundation Board, he had just been through some life-changing experiences, including cancer treatment and semi-retirement from his family’s company. During a tour of UMRC’s Huron Valley PACE in Ypsilanti, he wanted to help. “I love the concept of PACE,” Steve says. “When I heard about their Men’s Group, I said, ‘That’s it!’ I wanted to be part of it!”

The Men’s Group consists of a dozen or so PACE participants who meet once a week with social work intern, Max McIlroy, and volunteers, Steve Sarns and John Felton, whose wife, Sonja, is the Executive Director at Huron Valley PACE. Sonja suggested that John might enjoy volunteering after his retirement. “She always encouraged our children to volunteer,” says John. “I now understand my family’s passion for working with older adults.”

Max says volunteering in retirement homes throughout high school sparked his interest in serving older adults, too; something he hopes to continue upon completing his Master’s of Social Work degree at University of Michigan. “I believe in providing older adults opportunities to remain independent and active, which has an immensely positive impact on their overall health and well-being.”
positive impact on their overall health and well-being.”

Men’s Group covers a variety of topics, including mental health, grief, and family, along with strategies to overcome any difficulties they may be facing. “It’s so helpful for them to have someone to listen to their stories,” says Steve. “The Men’s Group gives them purpose.”

Other activities, including musical performances, have grown out of the interests and talents of the group.

Max says, “Men’s Group is a very rewarding experience for me, and one I look forward to every week.” Steve agrees. “I always gain something from these guys.”