Daily Point of Light # 2807 Nov 8, 2004

Art Nichols makes life a little easier for older adults and the disabled in Kalamazoo County. He helps seniors navigate the Medicare/Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP) by answering questions and solving problems to ensure that they get all the assistance that is available to them. He counsels and teaches older adults on how to fill out insurance paperwork and is available when they find themselves suddenly alone due to the death of a spouse. Nichols provides transportation to seniors and the disabled for shopping assistance and medical appointments. Since he likes to cook, Nichols also visits homebound older adults and prepares a home cooked meal for them. His awards and recognition have both alerted the public to the needs and the community and engaged others to volunteer.

As an RSVP volunteer, Nichols donates about 30 hours each month as a certified counselor. He has completed the 40-hour State of Michigan training and enjoys what he does. Nichols is happy they do not charge anything or sell anything; they are just available to meet a need.

Nichols makes community presentations to provide the public with up to date information on medical insurance eligibility and also offers to the homes of clients who live in outlining areas or who are physically unable to attend the presentations. He is a compassionate counselor with financial expertise and offers reassurance to those who are overwhelmed with complicated and unfamiliar applications and insurance jargon. Nichols utilizes resources, makes referrals and seeks support from community organizations that provide food, home repair, case management and home care assistance.

Art also serves with GIVE, which is an In Home Support program in Kalamazoo. He is a gourmet cook and he saw a flyer requesting volunteers for light meal preparation. That is a perfect match for Nichols, and he now annually donates approximately 400 hours per year to the program. Nichols goes above and beyond the call of duty, which is evident in his car for one of his GIVE clients. This man was scheduled for knee surgery and was bout to lose his house because he could not make the mortgage payments. Nichols cooked his meals, got him Meals on Wheels, and sold his house before foreclosure. Nichols then got him out of debt, on a budget and taught him the tools necessary to manage his own accounts.

Nichols offers all services he can provide along with RSVP and then he makes the clients aware of resources in Kalamazoo County where they can get additional aid. He offers service and hope to frail seniors worried about their future. Though Nichols wears many hats, he still makes the time to volunteer and help others. Nichols is a pioneer in Kalamazoo County who is forging a path for others to follow so they can make a difference too.