Thames Valley Council for Community Action (TVCCA) has sponsored Senior Corps volunteers for 16 years through its Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). Recently, with an additional grant, TVCCA has extended the RSVP services to cover all of Windham and New London Counties.
As many as 200 volunteers are working to support their neighbors throughout our communities in Eastern Connecticut, according to organizers. Lives are being changed significantly with a small amount of time, commitment, and effort. The need for volunteer support is increasing as baby boomers are aging, costs are increasing and family support is less prevalent due to distance.
RSVP Volunteers assist older and disabled individuals with in-home visiting, grocery shopping services, and Meals on Wheels delivery. They help local school children through tutoring and winter boot and school supply drives. And RSVP Volunteers support Veterans Coffeehouses throughout the region that provide information-sharing and camaraderie. RSVP also works with many local non-profit organizations to help them meet their volunteer needs.
According to Gina King, RSVP Coordinator for TVCCA, “current volunteers are committed to anything from an hour a month to several hours a week and they often change between jobs to enjoy different types of experiences.” King stressed the importance of the experience being gratifying for the volunteer in addition to meeting the community need.
Through RSVP, about 230,000 seniors across the country are connected to volunteer opportunities with roughly 65,000 local organizations. Not only does RSVP ensure that senior volunteers' skills are best matched to a local organization, it also guarantees that volunteers' time is put to use satisfying whatever unique needs their communities may have. Additionally, senior volunteers reap the mental and physical benefits of remaining active.
“For years we have seen the positive impact that volunteering has had on the volunteers here in eastern Connecticut,” says Program Director Jennifer Johnson.
Numerous studies have supported that assessment. TVCCA Senior Corps Volunteers recently participated in a nationwide study to gather information about the value of volunteering. Preliminary results point to the value of remaining active in retirement by volunteering. The official results are due to be released this fall by The Corporation for National and Community Service, the funding agency for Senior Corps.
Senior Corps has recently formed partnerships addressing national issues such as the Elder Justice Initiative with the U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Take Back Day with the Drug Enforcement Agency, and a forthcoming pilot project with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs focused on keeping aging veterans in their homes. TVCCA plans to work in these areas along with their current focuses.
If you would like additional information regarding any of the volunteer opportunities or the services that the volunteers provide, contact the TVCCA RSVP offices in New London at 860-425-6617, or Danielson at 860-774-9286.