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Volunteers 55+ Are Meeting Critical Needs; Represent Powerful Resource for Communities

Senior Corps Week – May 7-11 – honors Senior Corps volunteers for “Making A Difference for Generations” and encourages more communities to harness the talent and skill of Americans 55+  

 

The Corporation for National and Community Service is joining with organizations across the country to honor the powerful impact of Senior Corps volunteers and encourage more Americans 55+ to serve their communities through the third annual Senior Corps Week, taking place May 7-11. 

 

For more than four decades, Senior Corps volunteers have used their lifetime of skills and experience to meet community needs.  Today more than 330,000 volunteers age 55+ are serving throughout the United States through Senior Corps’ three programs – Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and RSVP.

 

“At a time of increased need and declining resources, volunteers age 55 and over are stepping in to fill the gaps,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  “Today, more than ever, communities need the talents and skills of all Americans to help move this nation forward.  Senior Corps volunteers are delivering enormous social and economic benefits to our communities and demonstrating that service is good for the nation and those who serve.” 

 

In addition to helping others, older volunteers are also helping themselves by living active, healthy lives through volunteering. A growing body of research points to mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations.  With nearly one in every five Americans projected to be age 60 or older by 2030, a great opportunity exists to engage older Americans in service to meet critical community needs while contributing to longer, healthier lives.  

 

  • Meeting critical community needs. More than 270 RSVP volunteers in Marshall and Washington Counties, assist First Responders to be prepared for natural disasters by taking part in training drills, tutor and mentor children, improve the environment, mobilize additional community volunteers, assist in providing nutritious food to families through Meals on Wheels, Food Pantries, Freezer Meals and helping to distribute Commodities.  They also provide business and technical expertise to nonprofits. In many communities, RSVP is the only program matching older volunteers with service opportunities. Last year RSVP volunteers provided 26,780 hours of service through more than 50 organizations. These volunteers provided mentoring, academic, and other service to children and youth and helped the elderly to remain in their homes as long as possible.

 

According to data from the Corporation for National and Community Service, 18.7 million older adults – nearly a quarter of those 55 and older – contributed on average more than three billion hours of service in their communities per year between 2008 and 2010.  The yearly economic benefit of this service to the nation equals more than $64 billion.

 

With the theme “Making a Difference for Generations,” Senior Corps Week highlights the powerful impact of 55+ volunteers and inspires others to get involved. The initiative recognizes that service by older Americans benefits everyone – it helps volunteers by keeping them active, healthy, and engaged; it helps our communities to have millions more skilled volunteers; and it helps our nation by saving taxpayer dollars and strengthening civic participation.

 

“During Senior Corps Week, as we celebrate the extraordinary contributions of older volunteers, let us also redouble our efforts to engage more 55+ Americans in serving their communities,” said Spencer. “Volunteering is a great way to stay active and healthy, learn skills, make friends, and experience the joy and satisfaction that comes from serving others.  Call the RSVP office at 785-562-2154 to find volunteer opportunities in your community.”

About Jeff Ottens