"Volunteers are love in action."
Click below to learn why!
Seniors in Service volunteers experience both emotional and physical health benefits from staying active and fulfilled, delaying their own need for services. Our volunteers feel a true sense of purpose from using their existing skills – and from developing new ones! Recent longitudinal studies performed by Senior Corps and United Way tell us that volunteering keeps us healthy. People who regularly help others report decreased feelings of isolation and depression, improved mood, lower stress, better physical fitness and overall increased happiness.
Some of our volunteers commit 15-30 hours per week; others are attracted by our “Got an hour? Give an hour” opportunities to serve on special projects and events. Many are extremely low-income residents who qualify for a very small living allowance of $3.00 per hour to assist them with travel and other expenses incurred while volunteering. Yet many help those they serve instead, purchasing healthy snacks for a child who comes to school hungry, prizes to reward a struggling student’s efforts in class or a sudoku book to keep a senior-aged client mentally engaged.
Volunteers benefit from monthly in-service trainings led by experts in topics related to their service as well as information to improve their lives, such as Elder Fraud, Nutrition, HIPPA and more. Foster Grandparent volunteers get training on curriculum, learning disabilities, conflict resolution; Senior Companion volunteers get training on dementia and reducing caregiver stress. Operation: Veteran Connect volunteers learn about Whole Health Coaching, Mindfulness and VA benefits. Our volunteers happily reunite at monthly trainings, sharing homemade snacks. Our nutrition class not only inspired them to discuss healthy choices with the children, seniors or veterans they serve, it also changed their own diets, bringing salads instead of donuts to class!
Volunteers also benefit with ongoing appreciation and recognition activities, including a formal Senior Appreciation Week in May (sadly cancelled this year due to social distancing) and our exclusive annual Volunteer Recognition Luncheon in December (fingers crossed on that one!). Volunteers receive tenor certificates celebrating 5, 10, 15 – and some over 20 years of service with us! And a few are awarded our coveted “Volunteer of the Year Award” based on nominations from their clients or others in the community.
Seniors in Service CEO Robin Ingles once led volunteers in a Mindset exercise where they were asked to close their eyes and envision a typical day of service, then come up with a single word to describe how they feel. They eagerly offered words like this: Purposeful. Joyful. Motivated. Fortunate. Energized. Inspired. Fulfilled. And the most common response? Blessed. With all they do to help the individuals they serve every day, our volunteers insist that it’s their own lives that are enriched.
Now, during COVID-19, we are helping volunteers find ways to continue making a difference while staying safe and healthy themselves.
- TelePals volunteers are providing friendly calls and wellness checks to elders who feel lonely and scared. Senior Companions who once provided in-home visits have shifted to serve their existing clients through TelePals.
- We are outfitting our suddenly homebound Foster Grandparent Volunteers with technology so they can still encourage children during e-learning.
- Readers in Motion is still engaging parents in their child’s education with virtual reading challenges tied to homework assignments.
- Dining Out At Home provides home-delivered hot meals purchased from local restaurants to low-income seniors. A win-win for our seniors and the local economy!
- Operation: Veteran Connect is still providing our Veterans Helping Veterans model in support of James A. Haley and Bay Pines VA Hospitals’ Whole Health – more important now than ever.
- Intergenerational TelePals gives struggling high-school/college students and lonely elders a creative way to get through this crisis, together.
- We continue to engage community volunteers to help other non-profits like Feeding Tampa Bay, Meals on Wheels, CARES Pasco, and more.
Engaging volunteers to serve our community is cost-effective – but it’s not free!
Funding supports our community’s most vulnerable during COVID-19 and beyond by recruiting, screening, training, mobilizing, scheduling, recognizing and retaining caring, dedicated volunteers.