This is National Volunteer Week. In honor of this, Office for the Aging would like to extend a special thank-you to everyone who spends time (whether on a regular or occasional basis) to help others in need. So many organizations in our county rely on volunteerism to deliver programs and services that are critical to the health, welfare and happiness of others and we cannot commend our volunteers enough for their contribution to our community and nation.
OFA would especially like to thank all those who assist with our mission of keeping older adults safe and living as independently as possible. Kathy Greenlee, the assistant secretary on aging, in her remarks about National Volunteer week said, "Volunteering is an American tradition and I am pleased to celebrate the contributions of all volunteers, but especially those who serve older Americans and their families all across this country. Whether you deliver a meal, look out for the interests of nursing home residents or help seniors recognize and report Medicare and Medicaid fraud, what you do makes a difference. Thank you for giving of your time, talent and expertise to benefit the lives of older Americans."
While we are very blessed in Chautauqua County with many long-standing volunteers, there is constantly a need for more people to become "civically engaged." At the same time we are finding this new generation of volunteers has different ideas about how they want to give back. Assistant Secretary Greenlee commented on this need to engage new volunteers in ways that utilize their unique talents. "Many older people, especially the Boomers, are looking for new kinds of volunteer experiences that utilize their skills and abilities honed in the world of work. We value their willingness to share their talents, skills and education to help the aging network and older adults and their caregivers."
In order to be more responsive to the new ideas about "civic engagement" and volunteerism, Chautauqua County OFA will be holding some community forums to discuss our county's volunteer needs and different ways people can contribute that fits their needs and lifestyle. At these events we will be discussing not only the needs of our community but better ways to tap the talents of those who want to contribute. We invite everyone young and old who wants to be more involved with improving our community to attend. We also encourage churches and clubs who may already have a volunteer pool to send a representative. Networking with other groups who have volunteers will ensure that we are not duplicating assistance and will maximize the volunteer resources of our community. The first forum will be held in the Dunkirk/Fredonia area (place to be announced) on April 27, hosted by OFA Caregiver Support Team (Jane Morris and Jennifer Ellman) and assisted by RSVP staff (Debbie Basile and Brenda Weiler).
If you have ever thought of volunteering your time to help your community, please remember what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. said. "Everybody can be great because anybody can serve. You don't have to have a college degree to serve. You don't have to make your subject and your verb agree to serve. You only need a heart full of grace, a soul generated by love." For more information on volunteer opportunities and these Volunteer and Civic Engagement Forums, contact Jennifer Ellman at 753-4781, 363-4781 or 661-7781. Stay well!