WASHINGTON, Sept. 19, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- New data released today by the Corporation for National and Community Service indicates that 18.7 million older adults – more than a quarter of those 55 and older – contributed on average more than 3 billion hours of service in their communities per year between 2008 and 2010. The yearly economic benefit of this service to the nation equals more than $64 billion.(1)
"Communities across America are seeing the benefits from the talent and skill older Americans offer through volunteering," said Robert Velasco II, acting CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "During Senior Corps Week we celebrate the powerful impact of the more than 450,000 Senior Corps volunteers who are helping to solve problems ranging from poverty and illiteracy to helping seniors continue to live independently."
The Corporation for National and Community Service administers three Senior Corps programs – Foster Grandparents, RSVP, and Senior Companions – and is honoring the tremendous contribution of Senior Corps volunteers during the second annual Senior Corps Week, September 19–23. Throughout the year, Senior Corps volunteers contribute to the health and vitality of their communities by meeting critical local needs, whether tutoring at–risk students, providing job training to veterans, supporting independent living, or responding to natural disasters.
"As the 78 million–strong Baby Boomer generation looks for ways to give back to their communities, Senior Corps offers a powerful way to link them to meaningful opportunities to make a difference," said Dr. Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps at the Corporation for National and Community Service. "Older Americans bring a lifetime of skills and experience that can be tapped to meet community challenges. Our Senior Corps programs engage older Americans in solving problems and serving those most in need, making senior service a vital investment for our nation now and into the future."
Last year 29,100 Foster Grandparent volunteers provided one–on–one tutoring or mentoring to more than 200,000 at–risk children. These volunteers play a key role in addressing the academic and social challenges these children face and are demonstrating success – 81 percent of children served by a Foster Grandparent demonstrated improved academic performance while 90 percent demonstrated improved self–image.
RSVP, Senior Corps' largest program, celebrates its 40th anniversary this year and engages more than 400,000 volunteers in tutoring and mentoring children, assisting victims of natural disasters, improving the environment, providing business and technical expertise to nonprofit organizations, and more. Last year, RSVP volunteers served 62 million hours through more than 65,000 organizations.
Senior Companions support independent living of older adults in need by providing transportation, assisting with groceries, helping with bills and paperwork and offering respite care. Last year, 14,684 Senior Companion volunteers provided 12 million hours of service to more than 60,000 elderly adults, allowing them to maintain independent living in their own homes.
"Along with delivering enormous social and economic benefit to communities nationwide, volunteer service also allows older Americans to remain active and healthy, an outcome that is critical as our nation strives to lower health care costs in times of budget constraints," said Dr. Tan. "More than two decades of research establishes a strong relationship between volunteering and health, and we are seeing that those who volunteer have lower mortality rates, greater functional ability, and lower rates of depression and disease later in life than those who do not volunteer."
Throughout Senior Corps Week, volunteers, project directors, community leaders, and residents from across the nation will take part in celebratory events and service activities to honor the remarkable volunteer work of Americans age 55+ who help solve problems, fill critical community needs, and provide a model for lifelong leadership.
To learn more about these programs, visit www.GetInvolved.gov. To read volunteer stories, check out the national service blog at www.NationalService.gov or visit the Senior Corps Facebook page to receive updates at www.Facebook.com/SeniorCorps.
Senior Corps is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans of all ages and backgrounds in service each year through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America programs, and leads President Obama's national call to service initiative, United We Serve.
Senior Corps Week, September 19-23, celebrates the commitment and contribution made by Senior Corps volunteers and recognizes their critical impact on addressing tough challenges across our nation. For more information about Senior Corps visit www.GetInvolved.gov.
Follow Senior Corps on Facebook.
(1) Dollar value per volunteer hour provided by Independent Sector.
SOURCE Corporation for National and Community Service