When Minette Wilson was going through a rough period five years
ago because of physical ailments, she thought a way out of the
doldrums might be to immerse herself in volunteer work.
“I made some phone calls to various hospitals and asked if there
was anything I could do at home. I was not driving at the time,” she
After several inquiries, Wilson, 86, connected with Carolyn Young,
supervisor of the Senior Peer Counseling program at Holy Cross
Medical Center in Mission Hills that ministers to people 55 and
older. Young was searching for additional volunteers to start the
same program at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.
Young put Wilson to work doing initial interviews with new
“In the beginning, I wasn’t too sure what I was doing, but after a
couple of phone calls, I stopped thinking about myself and started
concentrating on other people,” Wilson said.
When she obtains the client’s case history, Wilson gives the
information to Young, who assigns one of 40 volunteer counselors to
North Hollywood resident Bette Bershak, 55, received counseling
for three years.
“I’d been very, very depressed. A friend of mine told me about
[the program] and I called,” Bershak said. “I had a wonderful
counselor. She helped me through issues I had with my mother and
members of my family.”
Counselors often hear stories from senior shut-ins about
depression, grief, loss and the normal processes of aging, Young
“What makes this program unique is that it’s free and we go to the
home. I don’t know of another mental-health professional out there
who does that,” Young said.
For more information on this program, call Young at 953-4400, ext.