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History of the Volunteer Ombudsman Program

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
  2017  Mr. Dale Sankey, Dane County

  2018 Ms. Erin M Arndt, Winnebago County



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Board on Aging & Long Term Care
1402 Pankratz Street, Suite 111
Madison, Wisconsin  53704-4001
FAX:  608 246 7001