The Volunteer Ombudsman Program was established in 1994, to supplement and extend the advocacy services of the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, focusing solely on residents living in skilled nursing facilities. The volunteer program began as a pilot project and today is a respected program in select designated counties.
The Volunteer Ombudsman Program provides weekly advocacy services from hundreds of trained Volunteer Ombudsmen for hundreds of residents living in long term care facilities. The program continues to offer life-changing opportunities for individuals to be an advocate, to be a voice, to make a difference in the lives of the people living in local nursing homes and to make a difference their own lives as well.
Between May, 2007 and July, 2008, the Board implemented a pilot project for the opportunity to have a Volunteer Ombudsman advocate for residents in community based residential facilities(CBRF). this portion of the program was successful: however, it ended due to lack of funding. the volunteers in the pilot project had the opportunity to be trained fro the skilled nursing facility component, and will continue as advocates in assigned nursing homes.
In 2004, to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of the Volunteer Ombudsman Program and to make tribute to the founder of the Volunteer Ombudsman Program, and former Board Member, Louise Abrahams Yaffe, the Annual Louise Abrahams Yaffe Volunteer Ombudsman Program Award was created. This prestigious award is presented each year to an outstanding Volunteer Ombudsman through a formal nomination and Board selection process. Anyone can nominate a current Volunteer Ombudsman.
On April 16, 2013, to celebrate the Volunteer Ombudsman Programís upcoming 20th anniversary, the first state-wide Volunteer Ombudsman Program in-service and recognition event was held in Madison. This event was held to show the Volunteer Ombudsmen our appreciation and to acknowledge the impact their caring, concern and commitment has on the lives of the residents we serve.
The Volunteer Ombudsmen, the Volunteer Coordinators and the Regional Ombudsmen participated in a day of learning, networking, and festivities in Madison to celebrate this milestone for the Volunteer Ombudsman Program.
During the celebration a special tribute was paid to the founder of the Volunteer Ombudsman Program, and former board member, the late Louise Abrahams Yaffe, with the presentation of the Louise Abrahams Yaffe Volunteer Ombudsman Program Award to Louiseís three children; Alice Gruenberg, Jim Abrahams, and Jane Butenhoff.
Louise Abrahams Yaffe Volunteer Ombudsman Program Award recipients include:
2004 Mrs. Doris Brown, Milwaukee County
2005 Mrs. Diane Wiedenbeck, Dane County
2006 Mr. Jim Haseman, Rock County
2007 Mr. Larry Hammond, Milwaukee County
2008 Mr. Darrel Belows, Portage County
2009 Mr. Edmond A. Weaver, Kenosha County
2010 Mr. Douglas Koehler, Wood County
2011 Mrs. Beverly Laufenberg, Monroe County
2012 Mrs. Susan M. Dow, Dane County
2013 Mr. Glenn Holley, Waupaca County
2014 Ms. Helen Niebuhr, Columbia and Sauk Counties
2015 Ms. Jamie Knight, Brown County
2016 Mr. Todd Elmer, Milwaukee County