Take Advantage Of Volunteer Opportunities

It’s National Volunteer Month. More than ever organizations and people are relying on volunteers to meet the needs of our community.

Luckily, more than ever people, especially retirees, are looking for ways to give back to the community and use the time and talents they honed in the work place to help others.

While volunteer experiences exist in almost every nonprofit organization in our community, new ways of searching for the volunteer experience that meets your needs are increasing via social media like Facebook or Internet sites like volunteermatch.com, pointsoflight.org and americorp.org. With the sequester affecting many local organizations like Meals on Wheels that rely on volunteers to feed our frail neighbors, your time and talents as a volunteer are in demand more than ever. Think about volunteering today.

The senior clubs and centers in Chautauqua County play a vital role in keeping seniors engaged in body, mind and, spirit and are mostly run and supported by volunteers. Not only do they offer many wonderful social events and trips, but they also support their neighbors and community by providing outreach to shut-ins, transportation to non-drivers, exercise programs, meals and many other services and events that are vital to keeping older adults engaged in the community. Several communities like Findley Lake and Sinclairville have volunteers undergo training by Office for the Aging to provide grassroots outreach to seniors. This connection has significantly increased access to services for seniors in these communities.

In addition, Chautauqua County senior clubs have banded together to form the United Senior Council to increase the impact of their collective programs and increase awareness of senior issues. Office for the Aging works closely with the counsel to disseminate information countywide to seniors on Medicare, the Affordable Care Act and other topics as well as providing technical support for the council. Over the next few months the United Senior Council will host several events which seniors throughout the county are invited to attend.

On April 18, United Senior Council (USC) will be hosting their second annual Health & Wellness Fair at Emeritus on Southwestern Drive in Lakewood from 10 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. This event will feature more than 20 vendors, health screenings, and a wide range of topics from home energy audits, to brain health, and transportation. There is no cost to seniors to attend, and lunch will be served. Contact Theresa Perrin at 665-2414 for more information.

On May 9 in honor of Older American’s Month, USC will be “Unleashing the Power of Age” by hosting the second annual trivia day at the North Harmony Senior Center. Club teams of one to three people will compete to win cash prizes ranging from $25 to $100. Come test your knowledge of current and past events as well as Chautauqua County history. Call Connie to register at 763-0544. The entry fee is $5.

On July 4, USC is asking everyone to take a moment and “Let Freedom Ring!” At noon, seniors will be ringing bells throughout the county to remind us that our freedom is precious. They ask everyone to join in and remember not only those who have died to protect our rights and those that are currently fighting, but also remember there are people all around the world who still live without the basic freedoms we enjoy. And finally, mark your calendars, on Aug. 13, USC will be sponsoring their annual dinner dance at the Frewsburg Legion. This year’s theme is a 50s Sock Hop with music, dancing, great food, basket raffle and wonderful fellowship. Stay tuned for details.

As we celebrate National Volunteer Month, I hope everyone will take time to thank the volunteers who help at your organization, your church, your club or home. Great volunteers make great organizations and make this county a terrific place to live, work, and play. Call NY Connects at 753-4582, 363-4582 or 661-7582 or RSVP (665-3038) to find out about volunteer opportunities in Chautauqua County. Stay well.