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Hurricane Volunteer Support Fund
In the wake of the recent hurricanes, the Corporation is coordinating volunteers to assist with repair and relief efforts in areas affected by this devastating storm. Your donation will support volunteers in providing food and shelter, managing donations, helping victims get necessary assistance, and long-term rebuilding efforts.
USA Freedom Corps Partnering to Answer the President’s Call to Service

Thursday, December 22, 2005

CONTACT: Sandy Scott
Phone: 202-606-6724
Email: [email protected]


White House Conference on Aging Stresses Value of Older Volunteers


Once-a-decade conference urges Baby Boomers to “Get Involved”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The White House Conference on Aging came to a close last week after delegates passed a set of recommendations to the President and Congress that included a call for a national strategy for volunteering and a push for the renewal of laws that authorize national service programs.

The 1,200 delegates to the conference wrestled with complex and controversial issues related to Social Security, Medicare, pensions, long-term care, and elder abuse, among others. Volunteering – and the immense potential for social good in the coming Baby Boomer generation – was an idea that received widespread acceptance and a high level of attention from delegates and speakers at the gathering.

Claude Allen, the President’s Domestic Policy Advisor, praised the nation’s 500,000 Senior Corps volunteers and asked boomers to use their skill and experience to meet societal needs. “Boomers can be tapped to become teachers, they can be tutors, they can be stewards of the environment, they can also help young members of our society who are at risk for gang violence.”

That theme was echoed and amplified by Corporation for National and Community Service CEO David Eisner, who called for a cultural shift and a national strategy to tap the volunteer power of the 77 million baby boomers. “We need to we need to change our perceptions of aging and our expectations for people over 55. We have to learn to see older people as an asset, not a burden, and retirement as a time for personal renaissance and societal relevance.”

As a first step in the cultural shift, Eisner announced two agency initiatives to engage more baby boomers in service. The first was the awarding of $4 million in new challenge grants to support six organizations that will mobilize nearly 72,000 volunteers — most who will be baby boomers – to help families and communities recover from the Gulf Coast hurricanes.

The second was the launch of a new “Get Involved” public service advertising campaign aimed at recruiting America’s baby boomers to volunteer. The PSAs will begin running in January 2006 and feature a series of English and Spanish-language television, radio, and print ads profiling baby boomers of different backgrounds. The spots drive viewers to a new website which has a comprehensive online volunteer search engine to make it easy to find volunteer opportunities.

Delegates voted to include the two volunteer service recommendations among the top fifty resolutions that will be forwarded to Congress and the President. On the second day of the conference, they met in small groups to discuss implementation strategies. For the national volunteer strategy resolution (56), delegates asked employers to provide opportunities for their employees to volunteer, and urged the creation of transferable education awards for volunteers who serve at least 500 hours a year, among other ideas. On resolution 59 calling for reauthorization of the national service laws, delegates called for a doubling of Senior Corps and urged greater flexibility to support demonstration and innovative programs. The full report summarizing the implementation strategies will be available in June 2006 at the conference website at

“No one at this conference could walk away without having heard the volunteer and national service message loud and clear,” said Tess Scannell, Director of Senior Corps. “For that, I thank our Senior Corps association leaders and their half-million volunteers. Their dedication is changing the lives of countless Americans. We look forward to working together to unleash the immense power of the baby boomers.”

From the kick-off service project to the plenary speeches and implementation sessions, volunteering was a common theme at the 2005 White House Conference on Aging. Following are some highlights.

A Hands-On Kick-Off

The conference opened on Sunday morning with a volunteer service project for delegates and D.C. area volunteers. About 40 volunteers painted walls and weatherized the building that is home to Educational Organization for United Latin Americans (EOFULA), a local community center for Latino seniors. Volunteers also made lunch for about 40 clients of the center and distributed disaster preparedness kits donated by the National Association of Broadcasters. The service project was sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service and the Washington, DC Jewish Community Center.

Center director Angel Luis Irene was grateful for the volunteer help. “More than 90 percent of Latino elders in DC live at or below the poverty line and more than 65 percent live alone. The volunteers helping today are giving both a physical and psychological boost to our senior clients.”

“It may seem surprising to kick off a policy conference with a volunteer project,” said Eisner. “But really, it makes perfect sense. This project sends an important message: Older Americans make outstanding volunteers, and a key to successful aging is getting involved in your community.”

A Salute to Older Volunteers

Later that day, the Corporation hosted a “Salute to Volunteers” reception for all conference delegates. The reception was made possible through the generous support CVS Pharmacy and America Online.

The highlight of the reception was the premiere of “After the Storm,” a new seven minute documentary-style video that highlights the contributions of Senior Corps volunteers in Hurricane Katrina relief efforts in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi. The video showcases the “everyday heroes” who volunteer through the Foster Grandparent, RSVP, and Senior Companions programs. More than 4,000 Senior Corps volunteers have engaged in Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery efforts. The video shows how these volunteers sprang into action even when many were facing their own losses.

“They did what I think they just normally would do, which is look for the need and then go see how they can help,” said Priscilla Outhuse, RSVP Director, St. Taminy Parish, La., “and that’s what they did.”

A Campaign Launch

Surrounded by leaders from the nation’s senior service and nonprofit sector, Corporation CEO David Eisner unveiled a new multi-year public service advertising campaign aimed at recruiting America’s 77 million baby boomers to volunteer.

Eisner was joined at the noontime press conference launch of the “Get Involved” campaign by White House Conference on Aging policy chair Dorcas Hardy, baby boomer expert Ken Dychtwald, USA Freedom Corps director Desiree Sayle, and the four boomer volunteers featured in the new ads.

The campaign’s goal is to increase the number of boomers engaged in community service. It drives viewers to a new website, and toll-free hotline, 1-800-424-8867, where boomers can search by zip code and interest area for local volunteer opportunities that best suit their interests.

The Corporation for National and Community Service provides opportunities for Americans of all ages and backgrounds to serve their communities and country through three programs: Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, and Learn and Serve America. Together with the USA Freedom Corps, the Corporation is working to build a culture of citizenship, service, and responsibility in America. For more information, visit


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