Volunteers Enrich Lives
Volunteers are essential to the operation of senior centers. Center staff depends on their hard work and dedication. Volunteers work individually and in groups to perform many vital functions on behalf of senior centers.
The contributions of volunteers benefit the individual as well as the senior center.
Volunteer positions in centers provide meaningful roles and a sense of purpose, thus, in some cases, preventing or alleviating the feelings of depression that older individuals may experience with the losses that can accompany the aging process. Volunteers offer expertise, enthusiasm, commitment, energy, and creativity.
Volunteering in a Senior Center
Many senior centers have available written job descriptions for volunteer positions in the center. Many volunteer positions have a flexible time commitment. You may volunteer as little or as much as you want – one day a month or five days a week.
Management of Volunteers
Staff is responsible for recruiting, training, and retaining volunteers in senior centers. Training and ongoing supervision of volunteers is essential to ensure that each volunteer is successful. Volunteers may be trained by center staff or experienced volunteers. The amount of training is usually based on the nature of the volunteer position.
Volunteers sometimes have access to registration forms or other documents that contain personal information about center members. Therefore, they may be asked to sign a confidentiality agreement.
Examples of Senior Center Volunteer Job Opportunities:
- Answering phones
- Chairing a committee
- Holding an office on the Center Council
- Offering hospitality to members
- Providing clerical assistance
- Providing landscaping assistance
- Registering members
- Setting up, cleaning up, or preparing meals
- Teaching classes
How to Find Volunteer Opportunities at Your Local Senior Center:
- Pick up a copy of the senior center's newsletter.
- Check your local newspapers for volunteer positions in senior centers.
- Drop by or call your local senior center and talk to the staff.
- Call your local Retired Senior and Volunteer Program (RSVP) Office.
Volunteer Outreach Programs
Senior centers not only recruit volunteers to provide assistance within the center, but also outside the center. Assignments can include driving a center van, delivering literature, assisting frail seniors in the community or mentoring students.
Some senior centers operate programs that recruit volunteers to provide community service outside the senior center.
- Home Team Program
Baltimore County Department of Aging's Home Team program recruits volunteers in the centers and in the community to provide friendly visits, telephone reassurance, shopping, transportation, handyman and light housekeeping chores to homebound county residents over 60. This program, which is based in Baltimore County senior centers, reflects an old-fashioned, caring sense of community, providing reassurance and security to older persons and, at the same time, providing satisfaction to volunteers.
- Other Organizations
Non-profit organizations often seek to recruit volunteers through senior centers. For example, representatives of the American Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, or local hospitals visit senior centers and present information about volunteer opportunities in their organization. Senior centers with public bulletin boards may post volunteer opportunities available outside the senior center.
- Volunteer Opportunities for Students
Some senior centers in Maryland have volunteer assignments for children in grades 7-12 who must fulfill the Student Service Learning Requirement. There may be opportunities for college interns as well. Contact your local center for further information.
- The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), part of Senior Corps, provides opportunities for people 55 and over to make a difference in their community through volunteer service. RSVP volunteers serve in senior centers, schools, day care centers, police departments, hospitals, and other nonprofit and public organizations to help meet critical community needs. RSVP offers maximum flexibility and choice to its volunteers. RSVP volunteers are not paid, but sponsoring organizations may reimburse them for some costs incurred during service.
Information about volunteer opportunities in other settings is also available.