National Service Agency Highlights Impact of 55+ Volunteers

Sep 21, 2010

First-Ever Senior Corps Week Celebrates Volunteers “Making a Difference for Generations”

Washington, DC – For more than four decades, Americans age 55 and up have used their lifetime of skills and experience to solve problems and strengthen their communities. The Corporation for National and Community Service is joining with organizations across the country to celebrate the extraordinary impact of 55+ volunteers through the first-ever Senior Corps Week, taking place September 20-24.

“Today, more than ever, communities need the talents and skills of all Americans to help move this nation forward,” said Patrick Corvington, CEO of the Corporation, the federal agency that administers Senior Corps. “This week we celebrate the work of Americans age 55+ who are helping move the needle on problems ranging from poverty and illiteracy to high school drop-outs and independent living. They are one of our nation's greatest untapped resources and are critical to our prosperity and growth.”

At time of serious economic and social challenges, nearly 500,000 volunteers age 55+ are serving through Senior Corps' three programs – Foster Grandparents, RSVP, and Senior Companions. These individuals contributed more than 98 million hours of volunteer service worth an estimated $2 billion in 2009, and their impacts are proven and measurable:

· Last year 28,400 Foster Grandparents served more than 247,000 children and youth with special needs – providing one-on-one tutoring and mentoring and serving as role models.

· Each year, RSVP programs expand the capacity of more than 61,000 local organizations to deliver essential services including assisting victims of natural disasters, improving the environment, conducting safety patrols, and more. Last year, 414,000 RSVP volunteers provided 62 million hours of service valued at $1.2 billion, representing a 20-1 return on federal investment.

· Last year 15,200 Senior Companions enabled more than 68,000 frail and elderly adults to live independently in their own homes by transporting them to medical appointments, shopping for groceries, helping with bills and paperwork, and offering respite care.

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, reducing healthcare costs, and strengthening civic participation.

“Older Americans bring a lifetime of skills and experience as parents, workers, and citizens that can be tapped to meet challenges in our communities,” said Dr. Erwin Tan, a board certified geriatrician and recently appointed Director of Senior Corps. “Given the many social needs facing our communities – and the growing interest in service by 55+ Americans – this is a moment of unprecedented need and opportunity for our programs.”

As part of the initiative, Dr. Tan will join RSVP volunteer R.C. Turner from Washington DC in a nationwide radio media tour on Wednesday morning. The Corporation has also launched a billboard and transit advertising campaign that highlights the work of real 55+ volunteers and drives viewers to, where Americans 55+ can search for volunteer opportunities in their area. The advertising is currently being featured in nine cities – Portland, Cincinnati, Kansas City, Jacksonville, Biloxi, Dallas, Raleigh, Providence and Denver.

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