Guest Author - Charlene Ashendorf
"If I am not for myself, who will be for me? And when I am for myself, what am 'I'? And if not now, when?" ~ Hillel
You have been part of something most of your life; whether it’s your family, your place of business or as a couple. But things change and life happens. As a senior how do you stay connected and remain part of a larger community?
Volunteering is the single most important thing you can do. Oftentimes, navigating charities or nonprofit agencies for something as simple and meaningful as volunteering can be daunting.
During the JFK administration there was a dramatic shift in thinking with a call to service at home or abroad, for young or older adults. One such project developed as a call to serve was the Senior Corps which established the Retired Senior Volunteer Program or RSVP.
Nationally, RSVP operates to respond to the needs in local communities by providing meaningful volunteer opportunities for adults over 55 years of age.
RSVP provides its volunteers with personalized matching. Because thousands of charities support these efforts, RSVP acts as a clearinghouse or one stop shop for all of your volunteer interests! RSVP is able to match your interests with your schedule and your talents.
RSVP is supported by the Corporation of National & Community Service with grants by local, state and national government as well as support from corporations and individuals. A special benefit to this free service is that volunteer insurance is provided as well as transportation reimbursement to help defray costs and to ensure that everyone regardless of his or her economic situation is not deterred from service.
As a member of RSVP you are recognized for your commitment to service, eligible for national and local community service awards and tracking of your volunteer efforts are pooled and recorded. Last year more than 475,000 RSVP volunteers between the ages of 55 and 85 provided more than 66 million hours of service reaching out to over 60,000 locations. That is quite impressive considering that the national average value of volunteer service in the US is $20.25 per hour.
There are other benefits of being part of a national organization such as RSVP while volunteering at the local level in your own community. RSVP connects you to people just like yourself with educational opportunities and regular informational communications.
So where do you find these special volunteers? RSVP volunteers are working in the arts, public safety, the environment, literacy programs and counseling programs just to name a few. And if you are homebound because of health or transportation issues there are a variety of opportunities for you as a volunteer as well. Want to sharpen up your office skills? Many nonprofits are looking for your help and are willing provide training.
You don’t need to be “retired” to be part of RSVP just over 55. If you are interested you may want to contact your local Volunteer Center for information on RSVP or go to the Senior Corps website at http://www.seniorcorps.gov/about/programs/rsvp.asp and click on RSVP.
If not now, when?