Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Older Americans volunteer

By DIANE HENTGES, United Way of Wyandotte County

May is Older Americans Month.  Seniors in our community set the example for all us.

They spend countless hours in volunteer service. Many of our local non-profits, hospitals, libraries, schools, and even city hall runs more efficiently because of volunteers, many the older adults that we honor this month.

Nationally, just over 26 percent of older Americans (65+) volunteer.

In Kansas that number is almost 35 percent, above the national average. That is not unexpected since we in Kansas are not “average.”

What exactly do senior volunteers do in the community? About 45 percent volunteer in some capacity with a religious institution.

They may be the church secretary, head of the ushers, or mange the food pantry; to mention just a few of the many jobs they might take on. Another 17 percent give their time in the area of social service programs.

These volunteers maybe an advocate for a child living in foster care, a book mender at the library, an emergency responder there for the victim of a house fire, or the receptionists greeting clients.

Hospitals are next with 10 percent followed by education at 8 percent, civic engagement at 7 percent and sports and the arts at 4 percent.

Seniors are involved in many aspects of our community and they are making a difference.

When you are out and about this month and see a senior volunteer at the hospital, city hall, the library, the food pantry, the museum, or picking up trash in the neighborhood, thank them for their caring contribution to making our community a better place.

If you are senior interested in volunteering, please give me a call at 913-371-3674. The United Way of Wyandotte County is host to RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program).

There are a number of opportunities available in our community, there might be one just right for you.