“Seniors are a source of energy we need to plug into,” says Becky Polk, RSVP Program Director of Central County United Way in Hemet, CA. In more than 28,000 locations across the U.S., the nation’s Senior Corps program does just that. Through Senior Corps, Foster Grandparents are mentoring and tutoring students, Senior Companions are helping the frail elderly remain in their own homes, and RSVP volunteers help with disaster relief, caring for the environment, supporting veterans and military families, and providing tax preparation services to low-income and elderly individuals.
And in Hemet, Virginia Lopez, Thomas Covington and other retirees interested in crime prevention are “Citizen Patrol Volunteers” through the RSVP program sponsored by United Way. The volunteers help with crowd control at parades and other events, drive a volunteer patrol car to check on schools, and at the Hemet Police Department offices they file and deliver court papers and do other tasks that allow the department’s personnel to devote resources to more urgent matters. Virginia and Thomas are two of nearly 450 RSVP volunteers that served more than 12,000 hours in Hemet last year.
In Vermont, Theresa Hope has been a devoted Foster Grandparent since 2012. The 80-year old spends nearly every school day at the St. Albans City School. In addition to reading to and playing with the children, Theresa also works one-on-one with a few students to support literacy skill development. United Way of Northwest Vermont sponsors the Foster Grandparents program, coordinating dozens of volunteers, like Theresa, in three counties.
May 15-19, 2017 is Senior Corps Week, a time to recognize the extraordinary impact Virginia, Thomas, Theresa and the other 245,000 Senior Corps volunteers make in their communities, like tutoring and mentoring 267,000 children and helping more than 840,000 frail elderly receive independent living services in 2015. The seniors benefit as much as the people they help, staying active and connected to their community.
Do you know a senior with time and energy to spare? Your local United Way will be happy to channel their energy and enthusiasm into meaningful volunteer opportunities.