Sara Morrison: RSVP powered by 72k volunteer hours per year in Nevada County
Sara Morrison and Cynthia Schuetz
Seventy-thousand hours per year. That’s how much time senior volunteers, through the auspices of RSVP, give to the 60 Nevada County agencies with whom we partner. Nationally, 18.7 million older adults volunteer, giving three billion hours annually with an economic impact of $64 billion. Senior volunteers are valuable and valued contributors to their communities. No rocking chairs for them!
May is “Older Americans Month,” and what better way to acknowledge older Americans than to recognize all they do as volunteers for Nevada County. They can be found in our schools and libraries, in thrift shops run by nonprofits, in hospitals and clinics and public safety programs. You’ll find them volunteering with food banks, meal and firewood delivery to seniors, friendly visitor and telephone reassurance programs, organizations for children and families and our beautiful state parks.
They provide new meaning to the phrase “give back.” And volunteering gives back to them. There are wonderful benefits to becoming a volunteer. For instance, the National Council on Aging reports that:
• 85 percent of those who volunteer say that volunteering is the most important activity in their lives.
• Volunteers feel better and chronic conditions become less difficult to manage.
• Research is now showing that volunteering can lessen the time period of major grief for widows.
• Studies are indicating that volunteers live longer.
The increase in longevity is not surprising because seniors find so much meaning in volunteering, believing they are still making major contributions to their communities and being valued for them.
An unexpected benefit is that senior volunteers provide good models for the younger generation. This call to civic engagement can be passed from generation to generation, passing the torch of volunteerism, leading to feelings of self-worth and growing self-esteem. Younger people can witness how volunteering can become central in a person’s life and it can change the perspective that younger folks might have about seniors. Remember, no rocking chairs for this bunch!
RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) can help seniors find the right volunteer opportunity for them. We have been a presence in Nevada County for over 30 years. The Agency on Aging Area 4 is our sponsor and we receive funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service. We also receive $15,000 from Nevada County Board of Supervisors to support the volunteers’ activities.
Our volunteer opportunities are published weekly in The Union and other media, and can be found on our website, http://www.volunteernevadacounty.com. You can also call us at 271-0255 for more information. You don’t have to know where you want to volunteer or what you hope to do. Our volunteer coordinator conducts a personalized interview and matching, as well as follow-up, to make sure a good match has been established. And she stays in touch with the organizations who use RSVP volunteers to make sure all is going well.
One of the benefits of finding a volunteer match through RSVP is that we celebrate our volunteers every year during Senior Corps Week with a “Volunteer Recognition Luncheon,” to be held Wednesday, May 19, this year. Good food, a raffle, silent auction and entertainment — even a bit of champagne — make for a fun event. Donations and sponsorships from local businesses, professionals, and senior living communities make this day possible and we thank each one of them.
Nevada County is fortunate to have so many seniors who want to “give back” and are eager to share their skills and experience. RSVP is eager to help you find just the right place for you to do that. Give us a call at 271-0255.
Sara Morrison is RSVP Project Director for the Agency on Aging Area 4 in Grass Valley. Cynthia Schuetz is the chair of the RSVP Advisory Council.
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