It is special to find an activity that is a success on multiple levels, and volunteerism is unsurpassed in its many benefits. Volunteering is a win for the volunteer, the service recipient and the community. Senior volunteers who are members of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) serve throughout San Diego County at over 70 partner organizations. While giving back to the community, senior volunteers not only feel good about their efforts but they are also reaping personal health benefits - increased longevity, lower rates of heart disease and depression and a larger social network.
Individuals of all ages benefit from the RSVP volunteer activities. Volunteers who are docents at museums impact not only the adults who visit but also the many school children who learn from the information the volunteers provide. Children who are tutored by senior volunteers benefit by achieving greater success in school. Hospital visitors benefit when senior volunteers serve them in the gift shops. Visitors to parks benefit from the services seniors provide in maintaining the plants and environment, docent information and general support of the park area and activities. Veterans benefit from senior volunteer assistance in accessing veteran aid. The benefits reach far and wide.
When individuals benefit from volunteer services, the community also benefits. RSVP volunteers in many law enforcement agencies conduct You Are Not Alone (YANA) visits and phone calls to older adults and disabled adults who live alone and may not have a support network. From January through June 2014, senior volunteers made 5,646 visits and 21,502 phone calls to YANA clients checking on their welfare and providing social contact. These same volunteers assist officers in improving the safety of our communities: providing supporting activities that free officers to return to patrol quicker, making accident scenes safer by providing traffic diversion, and acting as a presence and additional watchful eyes in neighborhoods.
The community and individuals benefit when Meals-on-Wheels program volunteers deliver not only food to seniors and disabled individuals but also care and kindness to many who live in isolation. Birthdays, anniversaries and holidays are remembered and celebrated with special gifts delivered with the meals. Many times these home delivered meals help a senior to stay independent in their own home, which is also a benefit to the community. The program could not serve all the hundreds of clients without the help of senior volunteers.
These examples are just a few of many volunteer opportunities for seniors to serve throughout San Diego County. If you are age 50 and older, contact the County’s Aging & Independence Services Volunteer Office at 858-505-6399 to learn more about volunteer opportunities. You will not only be giving back to your community but also receiving many volunteer service benefits so you can thrive!