By: Kristin Clements-Effner, MSW Cofounder and Training Coordinator
I will never forget the night I had to rush my daughter to the emergency room because she was wheezing so bad that she couldn’t breathe. It was a scary moment and hospitals are usually less than kid friendly. After her breathing was stabilized, she was greeted by a nurse with a handmade stuffed animal to play with. It may seem small, but that stuffed animal made my daughter smile and took my mind off what was happening for a moment. A seniors group had made the animals for the hospital as a part of their volunteer efforts.
Many nonprofits engage Seniors in their volunteer corp; however, they are often individuals who have financial resources to contribute or started volunteering with the organization years ago. There is a segment of Seniors that are not often targeted by volunteer recruitment campaigns who reside in supportive living arrangements or have low incomes. These individuals have a wealth of life experience and skills to bring to many nonprofits in Indy. Here are some considerations in attracting the full spectrum of Seniors to your available opportunities:
1. Recruit volunteers through local AARP chapters, Area Agencies on Aging, Senior Centers, etc.
2. Involve faith-based organizations in your recruitment efforts of individual volunteers or work out relationships with church groups for specific projects.
3. Provide a diverse set of volunteer opportunities that will allow Seniors to use their skills, but also take into consideration possible physical limitations.
4. Foster relationships with Activity Directors at Senior Housing Communities to complete projects.
*Amended from http://mlkday.gov/plan/updates/archive/2008/memo7.html
Volunteering doesn’t have to be just about one on one mentoring or cleaning up a city block. It can be as simple as making a stuffed animal that brings a smile to a child’s face.