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Joining Senior Corps : Meet a Few Senior Corps Volunteers

The National Senior Service Corps is proud of the more than half a million volunteers ages 55 and older who serve through the Foster Grandparent, RSVP and Senior Companion Programs.

Foster Grandparent Volunteers – Helping Children
Following the death of her husband, Foster Grandparent Geverne Johnson was looking for a way to fill a void in her life. She joined the Southeast Arkansas Foster Grandparent project in August of 1997. She serves at Anderson Elementary School in Crossett, she began tutoring a ten-year-old child with a kindergarten reading level. Their time together was well spent – the child caught up to his class with the extra help of his special Foster Grandparent. Ms. Johnson joins many other Foster Grandparents from across the nation who serve in literacy-focused placements. They are earning high marks from teachers and school administrators as true resources in helping children learn to read.

Foster Grandparent Henry Green mentors and tutors African American boys, ages 8-13, who have been identified as needing individualized mentoring and tutoring to improve their academic performance. Through the Adopt a Role Model program, children meet daily with one or more members of a three-person team; a social worker, a volunteer teacher and Mr. Green, who refers to his assigned students as “my boys.” Program coordinators say that Mr. Green’s calm and supportive interaction with the children have helped to reduce hostility and that they now have a more positive outlook about their education and their future.

Foster Grandparent Volunteer Voices:
“I love kids. I think these kids need something and it gives me something, too.” – Foster Grandparent Ruth Holmes serves at a center for developmentally disabled children in Oxford, Mississippi.

“Children are everybody’s responsibility and it is up to us to make a difference. We all have to be involved.” Wanda Floyd-Fields serves as a Foster Grandparent in York, Pennsylvania.

“Helping those children really boosts your self-esteem and makes you feel young at heart.” Foster Grandparent Thelma Johnson serves at a Washington, Pennsylvania Head Start Center.

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) – Stronger Communities Through Service
Since 1993, RSVP volunteer Charles Smith, a retired Army officer, Charles Smith, has served fifty hours a week with the Arizona National Guard’s Youth Corps Program, Project Challenge. Project Challenge is a five-month residential program for high school dropouts between the ages of sixteen and eighteen. Students earn their GEDs, perform 100 hours of community service, develop life and citizenship skills, good health habits, and maintain physical fitness. Charles is a mentor and role model to the young residents, helping them to succeed by gaining the skills they need to turn their lives around.

RSVP volunteer Elizabeth Houston serves as an elementary school tutor in Tennessee. A former elementary school teacher, she is constantly searching out ways to motivate, encourage, and reinforce the second and third graders as they engage in their tutoring sessions. She believes that as a tutor, she has the power to enrich and improve each child’s reading skills, self-esteem and how to master a skill that will bring them lifelong pleasure. She says, “I am very proud to be part of America Reads.”

Volunteering is a way of life for Blair Willard, who serves with RSVP in Brevard, North Carolina. He recently received the Governor’s Certificate of Appreciation for his service to the children at Brevard Elementary School, where he helped local law enforcement to implement a safety plan for children crossing at a busy intersection. Off hours, he organizes volunteers to handle traffic and parking at high school football games and other special school events. According to the Brevard police, chief, Blair Willard’s attitude toward volunteering and civic involvement is infectious.

RSVP Volunteer Voices
“We’re used to working all our lives and volunteering has become an extension of that. It gives us something valuable to do, and we enjoy helping people.” RSVP volunteers Joan and Michael Johnson help Cape May, New Jersey seniors prepare their income taxes.

Making a difference in the lives of others, reaching out, sharing and caring for others, describes the RSVP volunteer.” Sadie Elliott has served an an RSVP volunteer in Inskster, Michigan for 20 years.

Senior Companion Program – Helping Adults in Need
For more than 38 years, Raisa Shmilevich taught English to Russian school children, while Yefim Khuteretsky was an engineer in the former Soviet Union for 35 years. Now they are residents of New York City and Senior Companion volunteers. They help recent elderly Russian immigrants cope with life in a new land, including adjusting to a new language and new customs. Drawing from her teaching experience, Raisa developed English lessons for each member of the families he serves. Recently, she joined with Yefim to help two families acquire housing that was fully accessible for their children with disabilities and then helped them move in and get organized. Along with other Russian-born Senior Companions, they show new immigrants how to use checkbooks, call emergency numbers and negotiate the citizenship process. Says one of the people they helped find a home: “You have given us windows to the world.”

Senior Companion Volunteer Voices
As long as I am able to drive and cook, I know that I can make a difference in someone else’s life.” When bad weather prevented Senior Companion Dorothy McCall from driving, she recruited a neighbor to take her to a client’s home on his tractor. She serves with the New River Area SCP in North Carolina.

“I like knowing they can depend on me to do whatever needs to be done.” Senior Companion Frances Boydston serves in Topeka, Kansas.

Please go to the Finding the Right Senior Corps Program for You page

Please send questions about joining a program in your state to your local Corporation State Office.