According to new data released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), senior volunteering is at a 10-year high – one in three volunteers is a senior age 55 and older. These men and women tap a lifetime of experience to help those in greatest need. More than 20 million senior volunteers gave nearly 3 billion hours of service, at a value of $67 billion.
“For generations, seniors have been making a powerful impact in their communities, and their service is more important now than ever,” said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. “With so many people in need, senior volunteers are making a difference in the lives of children, veterans, elderly, and disaster survivors. Leading the way are more than 360,000 Senior Corps volunteers – dedicated Americans using a lifetime of skills and experience to tackle pressing challenges in their communities.”
CNCS also found that the percentage of volunteers who are seniors has steadily increased over the last decade (up six points – from 25.1% in 2002 to 31.2% in 2011). Nearly three-quarters (72.4%) are volunteering informally by doing favors for and helping out their neighbors, seven points higher than the national average.
CNCS – the nation’s federal agency and largest grantmaker for service and volunteering – oversees Senior Corps. Senior Corps taps the skills, talents, and experience of more than 360,000 Americans age 55 and over to meet a wide range of community needs through three programs, the Foster Grandparent Program, RSVP, and the Senior Companion Program.
Each year, elected officials and community leaders spotlight the impact of Senior Corps during Senior Corps Week, taking place May 6-10 during Older Americans Month. The week will be marked by service projects and recognition events across the country. Already, more than 30 governors have issued proclamations for Senior Corps Week, representing broad support for the vital contribution Senior Corps makes to our communities and nation.
President Obama issued a proclamation last week, which said, “Many seniors are using a lifetime of experience to serve those around them. Even after decades of hard work, men and women are taking on new roles after retirement – organizing, educating, innovating, and making sure they leave the next generation with the same opportunities they had. It is a commitment that shines brightly in programs like Senior Corps..."
In addition to helping others, older volunteers are also helping themselves by living active, healthy lives through volunteering. A growing body of research points to mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering, including lower mortality rates, increased strength and energy, decreased rates of depression, and fewer physical limitations. With nearly one in every five Americans projected to be age 60 or older by 2030, a great opportunity exists to engage older Americans in service to meet critical community needs.
“Volunteering helps Americans by keeping them active, healthy, and engaged,” added Dr. Erwin Tan, Director of Senior Corps at CNCS. “As our nation’s older population rapidly grows, we have a tremendous opportunity to unleash the power of older volunteers on our most pressing problems.”
Examples of Senior Corps volunteers in action include:
For more information about Senior Corps, visit www.Serve.gov.