Friday, May 4, 2012

"Never Too Old To Play"

Since 1963 when John F. Kennedy was our president, May has been designated as "Older Americans Month," and in 2012 we are still honoring that legacy and following the proud tradition that shows our nation’s commitment to celebrating the contributions and achievements of older Americans. Each year highlights a new theme, and this year’s theme is Never Too Old To Play.

Today, there are 40 million people, or 13% of the population, living in the US that is 65+ and that figure is projected to increase as we experience the aging of the baby boomer generation - the largest in our nation’s history. According to current projections, experts tell us the American senior population is expected to number 71.5 million by 2030.

May is the time we must recognize the diversity and vitality of today’s older Americans. They have lived through wars and many hard times, as well as periods of unprecedented prosperity. They have pioneered new technologies in industry, communications and medicine, and have spearheaded a cultural revolution that won equal rights for minorities, women and disabled citizens. They are living longer and are more physically and socially active than ever before. These remarkable achievements and lifelong participation in our community demonstrate the strength and character of older Americans, and underscore the debt of gratitude we owe to the generations that have come before us that have given our society so much.
We must also remember that today, older Americans are continuing that proud tradition of contributing to our society. As the new generation of seniors become better educated and more financially secure than their predecessors, they are spending more time making significant contributions in our communities. I have read studies that show their interactions with family, friends and neighbors enrich the lives of everyone involved. Young people who have significant relationships with a grandparent or another older person report that these relationships helped shape their values, goals and life choices and gave them a sense of identity and roots.

What is also remarkable, is today’s healthy and active seniors in our community are supporting each other, by volunteering at meal sites and delivering meals to the homebound, acting as escorts and providing transportation to those unable to drive, teaching exercise classes, helping with small home repairs, sharing vital information about available services, and the list goes on. Their energy and commitment to do their part, enhances the quality of life for all and helps to keep others living independently in their own homes for as long as possible.
 
I am proud to tell you that many of these remarkable older Americans in our community are RSVP volunteers. In fact, last year 596 members gave 118,978 community service hours at 83 different nonprofit agencies performing 355 different tasks sharing their skills and talent with the community. These volunteers are examples of the ultimate expression of generosity to their community - because generosity is not in giving of what you have - but giving of who you are.

The annual commemoration of Older Americans Month is our opportunity to recognize the contributions of older citizens, and to unequivocally assure them they are never too old to play or to contribute to their community. They have gained a lifetime of experience, and it is our privilege to join them in providing volunteer opportunities, services, and support that empower them to live quality lives.

Joan Meeder
RSVP Director

To join RSVP and become a part of these wonderful volunteers, please contact us at Dove, 428.6616 or 935.2241 or email us at dove@doveinc.org.

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