National Volunteer Week: The Value Of Volunteering For Older Adults

National Volunteer Week And The Value Of Volunteering For Older Adults

April is National Volunteer Month, but from April 19 through the 25, we’re celebrating National Volunteer Week (NVW) as well as sharing reasons why volunteering for older adults is so important. 

This week is the time to thank volunteers across the US and Canada (and beyond!) who willfully donate their time, energy, and resources–particularly those assisting first-hand with the coronavirus pandemic. 

National Volunteer Month is dedicated to supporting and honoring volunteerism.

During this month, nonprofits typically promote special initiatives and appreciation events. However, this year will be different because of social distancing and stay-at-home orders.

25% of Americans are volunteers. Now more than ever, volunteers are the cornerstone of communities across the world. 

national-volunteer-month-two-seniors-volunteering
Source: GLOCOVO

Background

The Canadian government founded NVW to acknowledge the contributions made by women during World War II.

Although observances declined after the War, they resumed once more at the end of the 1960s and beginning of the 1970s. Then, in 1990, NVW was officially recognized.

In the US, the first National Volunteer Week occurred in 1974 and has steadily grown since then. When Richard Nixon formally recognized NVW, he encouraged Americans to commemorate the week by volunteering. 

Additionally, Nixon urged communities around the country to

“recognize volunteers by observing the week with special ceremonies to honor those who have given countless hours for the betterment of our communities and the American way of life.” 

Individuals, offices, schools, and teams have done their part to improve their communities through volunteer work ever since.

The Value Of Volunteering For Older Adults

National Volunteer Week is a great chance to acknowledge and show volunteers appreciation for the work they do to improve their communities.

Older adults are a core component of many important local projects and are a valuable part of volunteer networks around the country. 

Additionally, volunteering for older adults supports healthy aging–even just two hours a week has been shown to help:

Source: Wisconsin Central Time News

Greg Olsen, the acting director of New York State Office for the Aging, says,

“Older adults are the backbone of our communities, and their social, economic, intellectual, and civic contributions are essential to making New York a better place to live, work and grow older.”

Statistics

In 2018, an estimated 935,000 adults age 55 and older gave more than 495 million service hours in New York–the equivalent of nearly $13.9 billion annually

Volunteerism among older adults isn’t uncommon. A 2010 study by the Sloan Center for Aging and Work at Boston College found that adults 50 and older are more likely to engage in volunteer activities. 

Correspondingly, 52.9% of respondents in a 2009 survey conducted by The Hartford said they took part in volunteer work, compared to 45.2% of adults younger than 50.

The studies revealed that seniors in early retirement most often volunteered time to managerial or professional tasks. As they aged, the rate of food collection and office assistance rose.

The general trend for formal volunteerism among older adults with SeniorCorps in 2015 showed:

  • 23.5% of seniors volunteered
  • 11 million participated in volunteer activities
  • 1.9 billion hours of service
  • $45.5 billion in service contributions

Volunteer opportunities for older people in Boston can connect seniors to a range of projects according to their interests, location, and time commitment.

national-volunteer-week-a-group-of-volunteers
Source: Volunteer Ottowa

Promoting National Volunteer Week During COVID-19

The coronavirus outbreak has turned everything upside-down and forced unforeseen changes on everyone and everything–as well as National Volunteer Week.

In the past, both NVW and Month were excellent chances for nonprofits to organize volunteers and develop new recruitment initiatives.    

But because of the coronavirus pandemic, social distancing regulations, and stay-at-home orders in many states, these are not possible–or advisable.

Although regular ideas for projects, events, and appreciation aren’t viable, you can still acknowledge and engage those who routinely donate their time, efforts, and resources.

  • Send a note to volunteers at nonprofits thanking them for their work
  • Leave a message on an organization’s page on social media platforms
  • Spread awareness about volunteer groups in your area with others
  • Donating food, supplies, or other resources–it doesn’t have to be money

MeetCaregivers Celebrates National Volunteer Week

At Meetcaregivers, we believe that no senior should go hungry, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meetcaregivers connects seniors to qualified, affordable caregivers. We want to ensure seniors continue to have access to trained caregivers that can address the day-to-day needs of this unique community.

From making sure those in need are provided meals to running errands to grocery shopping, we’re here to help.

Learn more about our free food delivery program today.

For more information and senior resources, visit the blog.


Sources
  • Computer Systems Group, et al. “NVW 2019 – National Volunteer Week (NVW) – Campaigns – Volunteer Canada.” NVW 2019 – National Volunteer Week (NVW) – Campaigns – Volunteer Canada, 20 Apr. 2020, volunteer.ca/nvw2019.
  • Doing Good Is Good For You. Doing Good Is Good For You, National Association of Area Agencies on Aging, 2018, https://tinyurl.com/ybxqp3n5.
  • Morand, Tatiana. “How to Celebrate National Volunteer Month in 2020.” Wild Apricot Blog, 30 Mar. 2020, https://tinyurl.com/ybt63qa8.
  • “National Volunteer Week.” Mercy Housing, 9 Apr. 2019, https://tinyurl.com/yd77nnz2.
  • “Office for the Aging Marks National Volunteer Week.” Rome Daily Sentinel, https://tinyurl.com/y8pxwrej.
  • “Older Adults (Age 65 ).” Corporation for National and Community Service, https://tinyurl.com/y9zdy52d.

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