When does someone become a senior? When I was a child, I thought a senior was anyone with gray hair. When my first gray hairs arrived in my 30s, I revised my opinion rather quickly to define a senior as someone of “retirement age,” or about age 65. According to many organizations, anyone 55 years of age or older is considered a senior. I am now classified as a senior and am enjoying all of the volunteering opportunities that being a senior brings.
We have a lot of seniors residing in the Centre Region. Some of them are still working hard at their jobs, and some have reached that pinnacle called retirement. Many people in both categories are enriching our county with their efforts in volunteering, and we are thankful for the giving of their time and talents in a variety of ways. But how do our seniors discover all the volunteering opportunities that are out there and how do they decide which ones are worthy of their time and energy? This should be of interest to all of us, as I believe there are a lot of untapped resources, or seniors, out there that we could use in our prevention efforts for all ages.
So, where do we begin? Forging partnerships between the prevention organizations and some of the already established groups of seniors would be a good way to start. Communities That Care and The HOPE Initiative (Heroin, Opioids, Prevention and Education) are active prevention organizations that could use seniors in numerous ways such as becoming board members, writers of articles, action planners, public relations planners and much more. These prevention organizations are working on strategic planning and looking for new partnerships with other groups that will help them complete their important work.
Where should the prevention organizations seek support? Let’s take a closer look at the senior organizations that have cropped up within our area and find out what kinds of partnerships they have developed within the local communities and how we can extend the partnerships to the prevention organizations. Developing protocols to define the partnerships and creating a marketing package for the senior organizations to use to attract the interest of its members could help the partnerships to become the new trend in Centre County.
One example of an established senior group which has continued to search for new partnerships is the Centre County Retired Senior Volunteer Program. Director Brenda Reeve, states that her organization has partnerships with more than 80 groups across the county with more than 800 volunteers. Members are interviewed and receive information about the partners so that they may make educated decisions about which partners and which volunteering opportunities are a good match for them.
All it may take to form these new partnerships is starting the search for good matches between prevention and senior programs. Who do you think could be good a match?
Marsha L. Sackash, is the chairwoman of Centre County CTC and Centre County RSVP.