100+ Reasons to Celebrate This National Volunteer Week
By Mary S. Newton
Volunteer Services Coordinator
Atlanta Regional Commission, Area Agency on Aging
One of the best pieces of career advice I ever received came from a VP at the Chicago Transit Authority. He often reminded us that our work was important, sometimes difficult, but the key was to find the joy in it. “After all, if you don’t enjoy it, why show up?” His mantra was especially helpful on those wintry Chicago days when frozen tracks and snow-filled bus stops disrupted services, making our customers extremely unhappy, and I had the ‘joyful’ task of dealing with their ire.
A few years and bosses later, I now have the distinct privilege of being a volunteer services coordinator. I engage retired professionals to give their time and energy to serve with the Metro Atlanta Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). RSVP engages adults age 55 years and older to make a difference by serving as community educators, providing information to their peers on resources that can help them stay healthy, independent, and stay active as they age. The work of a volunteer coordinator can be challenging at times. Identifying, recruiting, training and retaining good volunteers is a continuous process. Nevertheless, I truly enjoy it. Our volunteers are the reason why. National Volunteer Week (April 7-13, 2019) is the perfect time to introduce you to a few of them.
There’s Nancy, a retired Manager with AT&T, who celebrated her 80th birthday this summer, is just a few months shy of her 10th year of service and provides training on many of the health and wellness modules we conduct. John, a retired teacher and airline reservations agent, who triumphed over the heartbreak of hearing loss, and uses his story as a platform to educate other seniors about it; Pam, a retired nurse, a champion of healthy eating and exercise, leads our CATCH Up to Fitness class across several counties; and 90-year old Joe and his nephew Terry, the dynamic duo who educate seniors about Healthy Sexuality; and Carla who, in addition to serving as one of our outreach ambassadors, uses her expertise to educate others about Diabetes and Medication Management. These represent just a few of the volunteers who lend their talent, time and voice to make a difference in our communities. Since the program was established in 2008, over 800 volunteers have contributed 126,441 hours of service to RSVP.
When I consider the hours RSVP volunteers have contributed, their generosity, and great spirit of service, I am humbled and inspired all over again. It brings to mind a saying I once read: “Work, if conducted as a force for good, can be powerful.”
National Volunteer Week was established in 1974 by the Points of Light Foundation, the brainchild of then-President George H. W. Bush. It allows us to recognize volunteers across the nation, who come together in many meaningful ways to help to build stronger, more resilient communities.
RSVP volunteers are very much part of the story in metro Atlanta. Now what about you? Are you 55+ and want to make a difference in your community and improve lives for seniors? Well, consider Metro Atlanta RSVP – a powerful resource for seniors – and a powerful force for good. To learn more, find us at www.empowerline.org/volunteer or contact us at 470-378-1447.