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HHUP Volunteer Manual


Manual Contents

Letter of Welcome


Dear Volunteer:

Welcome and thank you for joining  our Helping Hands UP (HHUP) community of volunteers. With your support, older neighbors and those facing physical challenges will be better able to live safely and comfortably in their homes as long as they’d like to. 

Please refer to this Manual as you embark on your volunteer work and as questions arise. Please review the important information contained within it, from roles and responsibilities of volunteers to building positive relationships with our Members to reporting concerns you may sometimes have.

Speaking for all of us on our HHUP Committee, we are excited to be involved with this important  University Park venture. We look forward to working with you as we grow with your help  to assist our older neighbors maintain an excellent quality of life.

 Linda Verrill

Helping Hands UP Committee
Linda Verrill, Chairperson
Peg Smith, Secretary
Deborah Rosenfelt
Mary Gathercole, UP Council Liaison
Edmond Shenassa
Quick Reference Information
  • Email:

  • Emergency:  911

  • University Park Police Department:  301-277-0050

  • General HHUP #: 301-892-6636



HHUP is part of a national movement of grassroots, volunteer-driven community organizations. The movement began in 2001 with the founding of Beacon Hill Village in Boston: a group of seniors met and developed strategies and services to enable their neighbors to remain in their homes. The number of villages is large and growing.  

A core group of UP residents met off and on for several years to plan for a University Park Village. In spring 2017, we voted to become an official Town Committee reporting to the Mayor and Town Council, seeing many benefits in this option. We were officially accepted as a Town Committee in July 2017, effectively functioning as a Village governed by a volunteer committee that includes a Town Council Member who serves as liaison to the Council. We are members of the Aging in Place Prince George’s County Working Group, Dementia Friendly Prince George’s and the JCA VillageRides Advisory Committee. We belong to WAVE (Washington Area Villages Exchange) and to the Village to Village Network. We are proud to be spearheading the Rte. 1 Villages group, which will periodically offer programming co-sponsored by HHUP, Hyattsville Aging in Place (HAP) and Neighbors Helping Neighbors-College Park (NHN-CP).

HHUP’s mission is to help disabled and aging University Park residents remain in their homes as they age. We do this through volunteer services, educational programs and social activities, and partnerships with other individuals and organizations that complement our mission. By engaging a wide range of residents, we enhance the quality of life for our entire community.

HHUP Volunteers: Roles & Responsibilities 

Volunteers are the backbone of HHUP. The dedication, skills and experiences you bring to HHUP and the quality of services you provide will fulfill the needs of Members and will benefit our entire University Park community. Whether you have a lot of time or a little, we appreciate your volunteering for those opportunities that fit your schedule, interests and abilities. We have no doubt that you will learn much, complete rewarding work, and have fun. 

Services our Members may request will generally fall into one of the following categories*:

  • Errands

    • Shopping for the Member

    • Picking up prescriptions, etc.

  • Warm Weather Outdoor Chores

  • Leaf removal, etc.

  • Cold Weather Outdoor Chores

    • Snow removal, etc. 

  • Indoor Light Chores

    • Changing light bulbs, smoke detector batteries, or simple repairs

    • Watering plants, etc.

  • Small House-Sitting Tasks

    • Watering plants

    • Collecting mail

    • Picking up newspapers, etc. 

  • Personal Contacts & Friendly Visits

    • Friendly visits to Members

    • Telephone check-in calls

    • Help with exercise, going for walks, etc.

  • Technology Assistance

    • Help with computer or internet use

    • Help with household electronics (TV, DVD player, remote, etc.)

  • Respite Services for Caregivers

    • Sitting with a loved one for a few hours while the caregiver runs an errand, goes to a meeting, etc.

  • Social/Educational

    • Assist with/lead social activities (dinners, teas, excursions)

    • Assist with/lead educational programs (lectures or seminars)

    • Assist with/lead fitness and wellness programs

  • Transportation

    • Medical appointments

    • Shopping or other errands

    • Religious services, community events, etc.

  • Referrals to Service Providers (future)**

    • Referrals to home health care agencies

    • Referrals to professional services (legal, tax preparation, etc.)

    • Links to county/state services


*These services are not designed to replace ongoing services in the community (e.g., weekly lawn maintenance or housekeeping services), but instead, provide assistance if and when needed by Members. Because of the high demand for transportation services, rides are generally limited to three round-trips per week.  Exceptions will be made for short-term situations (e.g., going to physical therapy for six weeks) at the discretion of HHUP Committee.

** As HHUP develops, we will compile service provider recommendations from (1) Consumer’s Checkbook and (2) University Park listserv (multiple recommendations only). 

Becoming a Volunteer 


Anyone over the age of 18 from University Park or the surrounding areas with a passion for supporting our seniors is welcome to volunteer.  There is no upper age limit!   Volunteer drivers must be over the age of 25 although the HHUP Committee may make exceptions.

Teens between 14 and 18 are welcome to volunteer with HHUP, but must provide a reference from a teacher or neighbor.  The Volunteer application form must be signed by the young adult, as well as by a parent or guardian. Children under the age of 14 may volunteer with the presence of a parent or other adult who is an HHUP Volunteer.

Youth attending Prince George’s County public schools may earn community service hours for performing volunteer work with HHUP.

Application and Background Checks

All Volunteers complete an application that outlines their availability, interests, and skills. While HHUP does not formally interview each Volunteer, we may call a Volunteer to clarify information or follow up on information provided in the application.  For the safety of our Members, background checks are conducted on all Volunteers; for Volunteer drivers, a motor vehicle (MVA) records check is also required. There is no charge to Volunteers for either the background checks or the MVA check, though Volunteers may offer to pay the relatively low cost. Volunteers may be declined based on the results of their background checks.  Volunteers can request a full copy of the result at the time of submission.  All information is kept confidential.

Volunteer Training

All Volunteers who will have contact with Members are required to attend a training session prior to their first assignment.  We also strongly encourage Volunteers to obtain CPR certification, though this is not required.  For the health and safety of Members, Volunteers are also strongly encouraged to receive annual flu shots.

After completing a training session, background check and, if applicable, MVA check, Volunteers will be given an identification badge, which should be worn or presented when going to an assignment, particularly when meeting a Member for the first time. Volunteer drivers will receive a large car magnet to identify their affiliation with HHUP.

  1. From time to time, Members may spontaneously make additional requests of a Volunteer.  Volunteers are welcome to take on these additional requests if they are able, but must report the request to the Coordinator so that it can be documented.  At any time, if a Volunteer is asked by a Member to do something that they are not comfortable doing, the Volunteer should decline and refer the Member to the Coordinator.  

  2. Volunteers received automated emails following completion of a service, asking for time spent and whether they wish to give any feedback, e.g. news or concerns.  Members are also welcome to provide feedback at any time. Volunteers are required to share with HHUP any observations or concerns about any changes in the health or environment of the Member.

Volunteer Drivers

In order to become a Volunteer driver, individuals must go through a separate motor vehicle records background check.  A photocopy of the Volunteer’s up-to-date insurance card must be submitted via email and is kept in a secure email folder. Insurance information must be updated annually.

Should you be in an accident while performing a Volunteer assignment, your personal auto policy will respond first.  The Town of University Park’s liability insurance will only respond if a claim exceeds your personal policy limits. You assume this risk when driving Members.  

Volunteers are expected to pay for their own gas and repairs. Mileage is a charitable tax-deductible expenses. Parking fees and tolls incurred while transporting a Member are the responsibility of the Member. Fines for moving violations and parking tickets are the responsibility of the Volunteer.

JCA VillageRides pays for Volunteer Drivers’  background and motor vehicle record checks, since we partner with them.

Volunteer Liability

HHUP carries limited liability insurance through the Town of University Park for the conduct of Volunteers,  so long as they are performing authorized services for HHUP. 

Both Federal and Maryland law provide volunteers with limited immunity from legal liability for their actions. The Volunteer Protection Act of 1997 (VPA) is intended to promote volunteer activity by providing certain protections related to volunteers serving nonprofits.  VPA is intended to cover the individual volunteer and does not necessarily protect the nonprofit organizations.  Conversely, VPA does not prohibit actions brought against the volunteer by the nonprofit itself.

A Volunteer will not be liable for harm caused by act or omission if:

  1. The volunteer was acting within the scope of his/her responsibilities.

  2. The volunteer was properly licensed/certified if appropriate.

  3. Harm was not caused by willful or criminal misconduct, gross negligence or conscious indifference to the rights or safety of the person harmed.

  4. Harm was not caused by the volunteer operating a vehicle for which the State requires the operator or owner to possess a license or maintain insurance.  

Maryland law (Maryland Volunteer Service Act, MVSA) extends immunity to a volunteer as long as the volunteer’s action meets the first three criteria above.  

In the case of harm caused by a vehicle, Town of University Park insurance will cover damages that exceed those covered by the Volunteer’s own liability insurance. However, no insurance can provide absolute assurance against being named in a suit.  For your own protection and that of others, we strongly recommend that your insurance coverage exceed the minimum level required by the State of Maryland, and that you consult your insurance company to ensure that your coverage is sufficient. 

You will not be protected in every situation as a Volunteer.  For example, you will be personally liable if you commit a violent crime, hate crime, or sexual offense; violate state or federal civil rights laws; are under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the injury; knew about the harmful act or believed a harmful act was likely to occur and you approved, authorized or participated in the act or approved it after the fact. 

Volunteer Termination

Grounds for dismissal include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Repeated failures to complete assignments

  • Failures to adhere to the rules and procedures in this Manual, including any future amendments or direction by HHUP committee members.

  • Theft of property or misuse of the organization’s equipment or materials

  • Verbal or physical abuse of Members and 

  • Breach of confidentiality.

Volunteer Program Policies

Volunteering with HHUP can be a rich, rewarding, and fun experience.  The guidelines and policies below are designed to ensure that the experience for both you and the Member is a positive one.  We welcome your feedback on your experiences so that we can best serve our community.

Volunteer Responsibilities and Values (Dos and Don’ts)

Respect:  We treat all individuals with a sense of dignity, respect, and worth.

  • Make a personal commitment to be nonjudgmental about cultural differences, living conditions and the lifestyle of each person with whom you work. Never pressure anyone to accept your political, cultural, or religious beliefs.

  • Respect the choices Members make about their lives, care, and financial matters, even when you believe their choices are not in their best interest.  Avoid arguing or debating these issues.  If you have concerns about the Member’s well-being, contact the Coordinator.

  • Avoid profane or abusive language with Members or Volunteers.

  • Respect all confidential information (see full Privacy and Confidentiality policy).  Volunteers are responsible for maintaining the confidentiality of all health or personal information which they may become privy to.

  • Do not remove anything from a Member’s home without express written permission from the Member.

  • While many Members enjoy the presence of children, other Members may be overwhelmed by a child’s energy. Please do not bring your children when fulfilling a service request without first discussing it with the Coordinator.

  • DO NOT smoke or wear perfume

  • DO NOT make or accept personal phone calls unless absolutely necessary; these interfere with building a positive relationship

  • DO NOT give medications or offer medical advice

  • DO NOT engage in any “hands-on” or personal care activities

  • DO NOT accept gifts of significant value


Personal Responsibility: We embrace the commitment and responsibility we have made to Members, their families, and the wider University Park community.

  • Be dependable: follow through on assignments or notify the Coordinator  immediately at 301-892-6636  if you cannot complete an assignment.  

  • Be prompt for all assignments.  The Member is likely looking forward to your arrival.

  • Accept assignments consistent with your interests, abilities, and available time. 

  • Accept feedback from others in order to do the best job possible.

  • Avoid conflict of interest situations (see full Conflict of Interest policy).  

  • Do not accept tips, non-cash gifts worth over $20, or loans.  Do not ask or accept compensation for any Volunteer work.  Cash should never be accepted. 

  • Contact the Coordinator  immediately if you are in doubt about a request for a service or are uncomfortable with any situation.

  • Do not offer health, legal, financial, or other professional advice. Instead, refer the Member to the Coordinator  who can direct them to preferred/vetted vendors or services.  

  • Safety:  We value the importance of maintaining safe spaces and situations for University Park residents as they age in place and our HHUP Volunteers.

  • Never use, possess, or be under the influence of alcohol or illegal drugs at any time while volunteering.

  • Attend all required safety trainings.

  • Report accidents, injuries, and unsafe situations to the Coordinator on duty.

  • Never administer medications or medical treatment.

  • Do not visit a Member when you feel sick, including having a fever over 100, a runny nose (other than allergies), or a cough.  If you are not well, please notify the Coordinator  immediately so that another Volunteer can take over your assignment.

  • Do not attempt to lift a Member who has fallen and cannot get up without assistance.  Call 911 and then the Coordinator  (see Emergency Guidelines).

  • Volunteers should not perform personal care services that require close personal contact and/or a license, such as bathing, manicures, hairstyling, etc.  The Member should be referred to the Coordinator  who can refer the Member to a preferred/vetted service provider.

  • Physically assisting aging and frail Members can endanger both the Member and the Volunteer if the Volunteer has not been trained to perform this function.  Beyond light touch for minimal balance support, refrain from physically assisting Members up and down stairs, in and out of a car, or to rise from sitting, unless you have been trained in safe practices. 

Elder Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment, and Exploitation

HHUP is founded on the principles of neighbors helping neighbors.  Part of this helping role includes keeping both our Members and our Volunteers safe from harm or abuse.  Elder abuse is an unfortunate reality and can take many forms, including physical, emotional, sexual, and financial abuse. Volunteers must report any concerns about abuse, neglect, abandonment, or exploitation immediately to the Coordinator. The Coordinator will evaluate the situation and, where appropriate, will contact authorities including Adult Protective Services (301-909-2450 or 2-1-1) and/or the University Park Police Department (301-277-0050) for consultation or to file a report.   

  • If there is an emergency, CALL 911 IMMEDIATELY and then call the HHUP Coordinator (301-892-6636). 

  • If you suspect that an HHUP Member may be the victim of abuse in any form, please notify the Coordinator  by calling 301-892-6636.

If a Volunteer is accused of abuse in any form, the Volunteer will be suspended and not permitted to participate in any HHUP activities pending an investigation by the HHUP committee and other authorities as appropriate. The HHUP Committee  reserves the right to bar the Volunteer from participation in HHUP activities if and when it  deems such action is warranted.

Harassment Policy

It is the policy of Helping Hand University Park that we will not tolerate – from a Volunteer, Committee member, or Member – verbal or physical conduct that harasses, disrupts, or interferes with another’s work performance or that creates an intimidating, offensive, or hostile environment.

  1. All forms of harassment are prohibited and sexual harassment is specifically prohibited.

  2. All harassing conduct, whether committed by a Committee member, Volunteer, or Member is also prohibited.  Such conduct includes:

    1. Sexual flirtations, touching, advances, or propositions;

    2. Verbal abuse;

    3. Graphic or suggestive comments about an individual's dress or body;

    4. Sexually degrading words to describe an individual; and

    5. The display of sexually suggestive objects or pictures, including nude photographs or illustrations.

  3. Any Volunteer who believes that the actions or works of a Committee member, other Volunteer, or Member constitute unwelcome harassment has a responsibility to:

    1. Tell the other Volunteer, Member, or Committee member that their action or words are unwelcome and are considered harassment; and

    2. Report or complain as soon as possible to the appropriate Coordinator or Committee member.

  4. All complaints of harassment will be investigated promptly in a manner that is as impartial and confidential as possible. If the Volunteer is not satisfied with the handling of a complaint or the action taken by the Coordinator, then the complaint should be taken to the Helping Hands University Park Committee or Chairperson.

Privacy and Confidentiality Policy

Respecting the privacy and dignity of Members in HHUP is not just a courtesy; it is a strict policy to which all of us must adhere. In consideration of Members’ privacy, please do not share the specifics of their address, medical information, personal issues, or any other identifying information with other people, including other Volunteers. For example, when telling anecdotes about interactions with Members and/or their families, Volunteers should not share any information that would identify a Member.

However, do not promise a Member that you “will not tell anyone.”  Please tell the Member that you will treat his or her information and situation with sensitivity but cannot promise confidentiality at the risk of the Member’s safety or the safety of others. Explain that, as an HHUP Volunteer, you may have to tell the Coordinator of information presenting a potential danger or risk (e.g., abuse, significant decline in health) to the Member or anyone else.  Members are also made aware of this “duty to report” when they join HHUP. You are part of the HHUP team and must work to ensure safety first.  

If Volunteers have questions regarding whether or not personal information should be shared, please consult with the Coordinator.

Conflict of Interest Policy

Volunteers should not discuss, offer, or attempt to involve the Member in any form in their personal or company businesses. Volunteers may not benefit from any business or personal transaction. Any attempt to do so is cause for immediate termination.  

Volunteers should not become health care or financial powers of attorney for the Members they assist. 

If a Member is in need of a particular service or vendor, please direct them to the Coordinator who can provide them with a list of preferred, vetted vendors. You may inform the Member that anyone connected with HHUP can subscribe to Consumer Checkbook at a reduced rate.

Representation of the Organization

Volunteers are not authorized to sign any agreement that involves HHUP contractual or financial obligations.

Volunteers are not authorized to act on behalf of, or make statements representing the official position of the organization unless they have been asked to do so by an HHUP Committee Member.  For example, Volunteers should not make statements to the press or broadcast media without prior authorization from the HHUP Committee.  

Guidelines for Handling Emergencies

Be prepared ahead of time by knowing what steps to take in emergency situations.


Do not attempt to handle an emergency situation on your own under any circumstances. Always call 911 immediately and then notify the Coordinator about the emergency that has occurred.

When a Member does not answer the door
  • Check the premises, look through the windows, ring the doorbell, or try to call on the phone to get a response.

  • If there is still no response, call the Coordinator at (240-487-9445) to report the situation. 

  • If you feel there is something wrong and the Coordinator is unavailable, CALL 911.

When the Member has an accident
  • Do not pick up or help pick up a Member who has fallen. If the person cannot get up by him/herself, call 911.

  • If the Member is unconscious, do not try to move him/her, except in a hazardous situation. Call 911 for emergency assistance.

  • Do not take the Member to a hospital. Call 911 for emergency assistance.

Signs of a Heart Attack
  • Chest discomfort. Most heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. 

  • Discomfort in other areas of the upper body. Symptoms can include pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.

  • Shortness of breath. May occur with or without chest discomfort. 

  • Other signs: These may include breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness. 

  • As with men, women’s most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are more likely than men to have some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

Signs of a Stroke

Use FAST to remember the warning signs of a stroke:

  • FACE: Ask the person to smile. Does one side of the face droop?

  • ARMS: Ask the person to raise both arms. Does one arm drift downward?

  • SPEECH: Ask the person to repeat a simple phrase. Is their speech slurred or strange?

  • TIME: If you observe any of these signs, call 9-1-1 immediately.

If you think a Member may be suffering a heart attack or stroke, call 911. Note time symptoms began because medication must begin within 3 hours for the best result.

Suggestions for Working with Members 
Building Positive Relationships
  • Be a good listener. The visiting goal should be simply to be present and attentive. Don’t worry about what to say. Relax and listen. 

  • Don’t overstay your visit. The Member you are helping might not have the energy for visits beyond an hour or so. 

  • Be cheerful and friendly. Remember that friendliness is infectious and wholesome but only remembered and appreciated if it is genuine. 

  • Don’t show negative reactions to anything unpleasant. There may be odors, poor personal grooming, or poor housekeeping. You have come to bring cheer, not to be critical. 

  • Whenever possible, do WITH the person rather than FOR the person. This is important to avoid the development of a dependent relationship. 

  • Avoid debate. Controversial subjects lead to disagreement and hard feelings. 

  • Learn the interests and sources of satisfaction of the Member. You might find that you share a hobby. 

  • Be careful.  Don’t take sides in personal problems. Let the Member discuss and vent personal issues, but make no issue of them by taking a position for or against the Member or others involved in the dispute the Member is discussing. Keep relations friendly and cheerful. Don’t show pity if the Member discusses physical or social problems. Be emotionally neutral but intensely interested. 

  • Be regular. This visit is probably an event to look forward to. If you are unable to make the promised visit, be sure to notify the Coordinator and the Member. If you agree to do something for the Member, be sure to follow through. 

  • Maintain interest and enthusiasm. Realize that you have an opportunity to bring something fresh and unique to the Member. Discuss current events and things that the Member is personally interested in.

  • Don’t disappoint someone by not showing up. You may never know how much your visit might have meant. If you can’t come be sure to tell the Member why; otherwise, he or she might feel personally responsible for your absence and believe that he or she might have done something to offend you. 

  • Be observant of changes in physical or mental health that may need professional attention and report these to the Coordinator. 

  • Don’t wear perfume or smoke when with a Member

Maintaining Boundaries

Unlike best friends or family, Volunteers need to maintain boundaries in their relations with Members in order to guard their own psychological health. Being genuine and showing compassion are important, but it is also necessary to set boundaries.

  • Avoid thinking you can solve other people’s problems.

  • Be aware of a growing dependency on you by the Member or his or her family.

  • Perform just the assigned task. Members are to make service requests through the Coordinator, not directly with the Volunteer.  If a Member makes a request for an additional or expanded task (such as picking up a prescription on the way home from an appointment), and the Volunteer is willing to do the additional task, the Volunteer may do so, but must call the Coordinator 240-487-9445 to add it as an approved activity.  

  • Learn to say “no.”

  • Don’t give advice. Don’t permit the Member to lean on you as a crutch. Encourage self-help. A person making an independent decision is practicing self-help and will be a stronger person. 

  • Although you are compassionate, maintain enough distance so you can be objective and realistic about the Member’s situation and thus be more helpful to them.

Signs that you are exceeding your boundaries include the following:

  • You lose objectivity. For instance, you become resentful toward the Member or someone in the Member’s family (even if you don’t openly express it).

  • You begin to feel stressed about volunteering. 

  • You feel emotionally on edge with your own family and friends.

  • You find yourself thinking about the Member too frequently.

  • You feel like you want to take over. You feel like the Member is your responsibility.

  • If you notice any of these signals, be sure to discuss them with the Coordinator.

Active Listening

Actively listening to the Member encourages reminiscence is an excellent way to build a relationship.

Ask the Member open-ended questions about family, birthplace, hobbies, former occupations, groups they’ve belonged to, music, travel, card games or books that they enjoy. Actively listen to their responses and enjoy the conversation!

Techniques to Achieve Active Listening
  • Accept what the person is saying and feeling. Look for the feelings underneath the actual words. 

  • Clarify what you think the person is saying and feeling by restating or paraphrasing what the person has said, and checking your perceptions of the situation with the person. 

  • Probe for the person’s own clarification of the situation. 

As a result of active listening, the person feels your care and concern. Feelings could change during the conversation and misunderstandings could be clarified.   Barriers may be broken and the opportunity for growth may be made possible.

Red Flags!
  • You suspect any form of abuse has occurred 

  • Member tells you s/he has experienced a fall, even if was not injured

  • Member’s mood has changed, e.g. seems increasingly sad, angry, tired or anxious

  • Member’s shopping requirements change, e.g. change in appetite, in financial status, mood

  • Living conditions change, e.g. house temperature is uncomfortably hot or cold, new person is in the house, house is messy where it’s always been neat

  • Member tells of loss, e.g. death of family member or friend

Working with the Hearing Impaired

Difficulty hearing in various degrees is a common part of the aging process for many older adults. There is a good chance that as you interact with seniors in HHUP, you’ll meet someone who has difficulty hearing. Here are some suggestions for working with the hearing impaired: 

  • Be sure that you have the hearing-impaired individual’s attention before speaking. Politely ask the individual if there’s something you can do which will help them to hear and understand you. 

  • Speak slowly, clearly and more loudly than you usually do. Allow the person enough time to understand your message and to respond. If the Member does not understand what you are saying, try expressing the same idea in different words. 

  • Be sure your face and lips can be seen clearly. Keep your hands away from your face while speaking, but use body language and hand gestures. Individuals with hearing impairments will rely on your facial expressions, your tone of voice, and simple lip reading to understand what you’re saying. 

  • Face the person you are speaking to, and be within five feet and on the same level. Most people with hearing impairments will have an ear with which they can hear better. Direct your voice to this ear. 

  • If there is a great deal of background noise, move to another location, or turn off the source of distracting sounds, such as the television or radio.

Working with the Visually Impaired

Following are some general guidelines to review before visiting a visually impaired Member:

  • The Member is the first expert you should consult to guide you in understanding what aid she or he might require. Don’t be afraid to talk to a Member with low vision or vision impairment about what they are able to perceive and distinguish. 

  • Pay attention to light sources in the area. Avoid standing between a light source and the Member you are visiting. Make sure that there is adequate lighting. The average 80-year-old person needs three times more light than a 29-year-old person does to see well enough to read.

  • Always make your presence known and identify yourself and others around the visually impaired person. Politely inform the Member when others enter the room.

  • Just as you make your presence known, make sure that the Member knows when you are stepping away from the room or departing from your visit.

  • Being visually impaired does not mean an individual is also hearing impaired, but many unconsciously raise their voices when speaking to the visually impaired. Try to avoid this.

  • Speak directly to the Member you are volunteering with in your usual manner. Don’t omit words like “see” and “look.” The visually impaired person understands that these words are parts of a normal conversation. 

  • When walking indoors or out, be sure to describe where you are going and any changes in ground level such as steps, or texture such as movement from a tile floor to a carpeted one.

  • When walking with a visually impaired person in an unfamiliar place, it is best to have that person lightly hold/touch your arm as you walk beside him or her while keeping a slight distance ahead.  This will cue the impaired person as to what to expect with each step as he or she follows you. Never guide someone by pulling or holding, as it can interfere with the individual’s sense of balance and ability to plan his or her next move.

  • Never pull or grab at someone in order to guide him or her or gain his or her attention. 

  • Suggest visual aids to foster independence such as large print books and magazines, recorded books, magnifying glasses, large push-button telephones, etc. 

Working with Members Who Use Wheelchairs or Have Difficulty Walking
  • Always ask a Member to tell you exactly what you need to do and how to do it in order to offer the best assistance. 

  • Many physically impaired persons need the assistance of canes, crutches, a walker, or a wheelchair. Make sure that these are within easy reach of the Member. 

  • When escorting someone, ask the individual if he or she would like to take your arm, then stand slightly ahead of the individual, and proceed at his or her pace. Never have the person you are assisting walk in front of you.  The exception would be when walking up stairs.  In that case, walk behind the individual to guard him or her against a fall.  When walking down stairs, position yourself in front of the person you are assisting so as to guard him/her against a fall.

  • If you are assisting a Member who uses a walker, make sure the individual does not try to use the walker to pull herself or himself up. When a Member using a walker rises from a chair, ask the Member to slide forward to sit on the edge of the chair and tuck his or her feet back under the knees. Then remind the person to lean forward (think nose over toes) and stand up.   Offer your arm for assistance if they need help.  It is best to find a chair with armrests whenever possible so that one can push up into standing using the armrests.

  • Members who use canes and walkers often need assistance carrying handbags, coats or any other objects that may complicate the person’s ability to use the walker or cane. Politely offer to carry these items. 

  • If you are escorting someone who uses a wheelchair, be familiar with the features of the wheelchair as well as the user’s capabilities. If the Member does not need you to push the wheelchair, encourage his or her independence. 

  • It is very important to remember to engage the wheelchair brakes before having a person transfer to and from the chair.  For general safety, it is a good idea to keep the brakes locked whenever the chair is stationary. When pushing the wheelchair around curbs or other changes in ground level, use the tipping levers at the bottom rear of the chair. 

  • If your conversation with the Member lasts more than a few minutes, consider sitting down or kneeling to get yourself on the same eye level as the wheelchair user..

  • Don’t lean on a person’s wheelchair. It is part of the wheelchair user’s personal space. 

  • If there is an alternative to climbing up or down stairs, utilize it.  Experts suggest that Members with mobility difficulties use their “stronger” leg or side to lead them upstairs and their weaker side or leg to lead them down stairs.

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  3. Enter your password

  4. Click submit 


Note:  If you have forgotten your password, click on “forgot password” just below the “Keep me logged in” checkbox.

To view AVAILABLE service requests and appointments

  1. Click on “Available” on the left column.

  2. See a table with an overview of each available request or ride (take note of one way or roundtrip).

  3. Click on “Details” for the request you are interested in, to view specifics 

  4. Click the back arrow to return to the table of available requests

  5. Click on the Pick up or Destination address to view a 360 degree satellite picture of the location to become familiar with it.  

  6. Click on the green arrow between the Pickup and Destination addresses to view or print directions.

  7. From the list of Available requests click “Accept” to assign yourself to the ride.

  8. You will immediately receive an email thanking you for helping out your neighbor. 

Note:  access daily, weekly, and monthly views of the available rides requests.

To view YOUR appointments

  1. Click on “My Appointments” - appointments menu (top left-hand) 

  2. View the list of requests you have accepted 

  • Date

  • Name of Member

  • Request type

  • Pick-up and destination addresses 

  • Access satellite views and directions

  1. To un-accept a request, click on “unaccept” in the second column of the request you will no longer be able to provide (inform the Coordinator).

HHUP Contact Information


Volunteer Acknowledgement


I acknowledge that I have received and agree to abide by the terms contained in the Helping Hands University Park’s Volunteer Manual, including but not limited to the following policies:


  1. HHUP Harassment Policy

  2. HHUP Privacy Policy

  3. HHUP Policy on Abuse, Neglect, Abandonment, and Exploitation


I affirm that I will abide by these policies.


I understand that this signature page will be maintained by HHUP in an appropriate file.


Volunteer Signature: __________________________________________Date: __________________


Printed name:__________________________________________________

Thank You!


We hope this Manual provides you with useful guidelines and information as you embark on providing services to HHUP Members—and we trust that you will refer to it as a handy reference when needed during your time as a Volunteer. We welcome your comments and questions now and at any time during your service as an HHUP Volunteer.  This manual is a dynamic document.  We expect that, with our combined experience and your help, we will occasionally make revisions.  When we do, we will keep you informed of any changes in policy and procedures.

The HHUP Committee is ready to support you with whatever you need in order to make your completion of Volunteer assignments safe, effective, and rewarding for both yourself and the HHUP Members you serve.  We wish you the best and … thank you! 


A special thanks to Cheverly Village, Villages of Kensington, Chava Ball of CHAI Baltimore, Iona Senior Services, and the Palisades Village for sharing information with us. We are grateful to Pazit Aviv, Village Coordinator, Montgomery County, for being so generous in guiding us, and to Sara Fought, former Coordinator, VillageRides, Jewish Council for the Aging for working closely with us to utilize the VillageRides scheduling software.


Appendix A - Roles and Rights of HHUP Volunteers


  1. As Volunteers, you have the following responsibilities:

  1. Give permission for background checks and, if appropriate, driving record check.

  2. Meet your volunteer commitments.

  3. Provide as much advance notice as you can if you cannot meet your commitments, so other arrangements can be made.

  4. Perform your assigned services according to the standards of paid professionals and conduct your volunteer work as seriously as if you were being paid for it.

  5. Be dependable and punctual.

  6. Understand the insurance coverage provided by HHUP.

  7. Maintain confidentiality according to HHUP privacy policy.

  8. Use HHUP resources solely for HHUP volunteer services.

  9. Accept the guidance of the Coordinator.

  10. Report any concerns you have regarding Members to the Coordinator as soon as possible.

  11. Notify HHUP (301-892-6636) as soon as possible if you wish to terminate your volunteer service.

  1.  And you have the right to

    1. Have your privacy and confidentiality protect

    2.  Meaningful work

    3. Recognition for your efforts (e.g., formal or informal events to honor your contributions)

    4.  Be treated with respect by your Coordinator and the Members you serve

    5. Say “no” to assignments with which you’re not comfortable

    6. Determine how much time you want to commit to volunteering for HHUP.

    7.  Make suggestions and be heard

    8. Communicate positive and negative experiences

Appendix B - Privacy Policy for HHUP Volunteers


Helping Hands University Park respects the privacy of its Members, volunteers, and committee members.  As an HHUP Volunteer, I agree to adhere to the following privacy principles:

  1. I agree to protect the confidentiality of personal information about individuals.

  2. I agree to collect personal information directly from the individual concerned, or with the knowledge and consent of that individual.

  3. I agree to inform each person of the purpose and use of requested personal information.

  4. I agree to acquire only personal information that is necessary to accomplish the purpose for which it is intended.

  5. I agree not to give, sell, or rent personal information to third parties.

  6. I agree to enable individuals to update or correct their personal records.

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