When President John F. Kennedy said in his inaugural address “Ask not what your Country can do for you, ask what you can do for your Country,” he sent out a call to all Americans not to give their money, but their time and expertise to help others. It was then that Senior Corps was first conceived and since then many thousands of senior citizens, aged 55 and up, have made a tremendous difference in the lives of their fellow Americans.
Back then, the programs were separate, off on their own, but in 1994, President Bill Clinton signed legislation creating the “Corporation for National and Community Service”, bringing the full range of domestic community service programs under the umbrella of one central organization. It was at this time that three of the separate programs, Foster Grandparents, RSVP, and Senior Companion, were brought together as Senior Corps. Along with AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America, Senior Corps became part of the newly formed Corporation for National and Community Service.
With the baby boomer generation entering their senior citizen years, there will be many volunteers for all three of the Senior Corps Programs, with knowledge like no other generation before ever had and a desire to share that knowledge with the younger generations. What a difference this generation can make, it is mind boggling and here are the three programs that come under the Senior Corps banner for the members of the most powerful generation in history to choose from.
Foster Grandparents Program
The Foster Grandparents Program is a chance for you to make a difference in the life of a disadvantaged or disabled youth. You work one on one helping them with tutoring, working with young mothers and working with young children with disabilities. You must meet income requirements, be able to devote 15 40 hours a week. You do get a small stipend to offset the cost of travel and such and there is training before you begin as well as on going training. There are foster grandparent programs in all 50 states, District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
In the Senior Companions program you work one on one with a frail, disabled or terminally ill senior citizen. In addition to helping the client with everyday tasks, providing transportation and just being a friend, maybe play cards or reading them a book or the newspaper. You also give their regular care giver some time off, to do what they need to do for themselves. The time requirement for Senior Companions is the same as for the Foster Grandparents Program, 15 to 40 hours a week, you must be 60 years old and you receive training before you begin as well as during your service. As with the Foster Grandparents Program, Senior Companions is available in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.
RSVP is open to the younger seniors group starting with those 55 and older and there are a great many options to choose from, all of which will give you the opportunity to be a big help to your community. There is a category that will match the skills and experience of just about anyone such as
Tutoring children in reading and math, Building houses,
Helping get children immunized, Modeling parenting skills to teen parents, Participating in neighborhood watch programs, Planting community gardens, Providing counsel to new business owners, Offering relief services to victims of natural disasters and Helping community organizations operate more efficiently. There will be many other RSVP options available, depending on the needs in your community.
So are you ready to make a difference in someone’s life? Take a look at the Senior Corps web site. You can get your application started right there. Lets show the country what the baby boomer generation can do.