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Senior Corps Week 2012 honors the 2000 Senior Corps volunteers in Maine

Published May 10, 2012

logo for senior corps weekAUGUSTA - According to the Maine Commission for Community Service, new data released 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.

Here in Maine, nearly 2,000 seniors contributed their time and talents in one of three Senior Corps programs in 2011.  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 third annual Senior Corps Week, May 7-11, 2012.

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.  During 2011, Maine's 1,984 Senior Corps volunteers gave a total of 562,158 hours.

 "At a time of increased need and declining resources, volunteers age 55 and over are stepping in to fill the gaps," said Wendy Spencer, CEO of the Corporation for National and Community Service. "Today, more than ever, communities need the talents and skills of all Americans to help move this nation forward. Senior Corps volunteers are delivering enormous social and economic benefits to our communities and demonstrating that service is good for the nation and those who serve."

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. In Maine, 222 Foster Grandparent volunteer averaged 889 hours of service in 2011, serving 2,147 children.

RSVP 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.  During 2011, 1,586 RSVP volunteers served with 440 community organizations in Maine.

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.  In Maine, 176 Senior Companion volunteers averaged 732 hours in 2011, providing services to 905 senior citizens and respite care to almost 100 caregivers.

"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. Erwin Tan, director of Senior Corps at the Corporation for National and Community Service. "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, and find Maine Senior Corps programs at www.volunteermaine.org.  

The Maine Commission for Community Service builds capacity and sustainability in Maine's volunteer and service communities by funding programs, developing managers of volunteers and service-learning practitioners, raising awareness of sector issues, and promoting service as a strategy.  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 United We Serve.

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Contact: Meredith Eaton, Maine Commission for Community Service
Phone: (207)624-7784
Email: meredith.eaton@maine.gov