Etowah Senior

Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center volunteers Henry Norwood and Linda Morrow are shown here loading meals to deliver to Meal-on-Wheels seniors.

This week is National Volunteer Appreciation Week. To honor those who volunteer their services to our seniors, we are having our third annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon. Our center would not be such an asset to our community without our volunteers.

In 1974, President Richard Nixon established National Volunteer Week with an executive order as a way to recognize and celebrate the efforts of volunteers. This week has become a way to urge people to get out and volunteer in their communities.

Some of our most appreciated volunteers are those who deliver for the Meals-on-Wheels program. In 1954, a group from Philadelphia started the first home-delivered meal program to disadvantaged seniors. Now, millions of volunteers enable 225 million meals to be delivered to 2.4 million seniors each year.

Our Meals-on-Wheels program has been in existence for over 25 years. The purpose of our program is not only to deliver a hot lunch, but to come into contact with the senior. Often, the volunteer is the only person they will see that day.

Our volunteers make sure they see the senior and make sure they are OK. In the past, we have been the ones who have discovered that the person had fallen or had other health emergencies. Our volunteers are there to get them the help they need.

We are greatly in debt for our Meals-on-Wheels volunteers. Currently our volunteers are Sandra Corn, Sandra Liner, Brenda Gore, Linda Morrow, Henry Norwood, Lana Tallent, Janis Wenzel, Wanda and Allen McCroskey, Katie Wallace and Tri-County Center. They do such a great service to our community.

If you were to talk to these volunteers about their experience delivering the meals, they would almost all tell you that they are the one who receive the joy when visiting these shut-ins.

We have all our routes covered, but we still need some volunteers that could substitute for our volunteers when needed. Please call the center at 423-781-7632 if you would like more information.

When you become an older person and perhaps you have retired, you will have more free time. Something you could do is stay on the couch and watch TV. That might be the easiest option, but it’s more important for seniors to stay active and engaged with others to avoid being bored. Giving back to the local community is the perfect way to spend the post-work years.

A recent study shows that about 18.7 million older adults contributed on average more than three billion hours of service in their communities per year between 2014 and 2016. Older volunteers meet a wide range of community needs.

They may help seniors live independently in their homes, tutor students in after school programs, help at hospitals, help at non-profit organizations and help communities recover from disasters. In fact, adults 55 and older typically volunteer more hours in a year than other age groups.

In addition to providing valuable services to individuals and communities, volunteering has many benefits. Below are a few of the ways volunteering can improve your life.

• Volunteering can have positive effects on a person’s psychological health. Getting out of your house is important at any age, but getting out and volunteering gives a person a sense of purpose and accomplishment. Ones who are experiencing depression will see a decrease in their symptoms.

• Volunteering can lower your risk of dementia. Doing activities that keep your brain healthy can contribute to cognitive health.

• Volunteering will help keep you physically active. Maintaining a healthy level of fitness helps fend off diseases as you age and improve many body functions. It can help ward off high blood pressure and heart disease.

• Volunteering makes you feel like you have more time. People who give their time felt more capable, confident and useful. Since they were able to accomplish one thing, they feel they will easily accomplish tasks in the future. Even though realistically they have less time, they feel as though they have more time.

• Studies have shown that seniors who volunteer to help others experience lower mortality rates. By giving seniors a reason to get out of the house, they become more physically active. This can help with “retirement burnout” that some inactive seniors begin to get when they become older.

• Volunteering also can change the way many people think about older adults. By using their talents and skills out in the community in a variety of ways, seniors can demonstrate that they are active, involved and essential to a healthy community.

• Volunteering as a senior gives you a reason to get out of the house and into their community. You can share your talents, wisdom and experience with individuals they would otherwise ever have met. By volunteering, seniors can expand their social circles tremendously by making new friends.

Maybe now you have decided that you would like to volunteer some of your time. Next week, we will let you know some places in our community where you would be welcome to volunteer.

Our center is a very active place where seniors can come and join in on some awesome activities. There is no better way to spend your day than to be with others. The following are some activities we have scheduled in the next week:

• Thursday: 10 a.m. — Bingo; 11:30 a.m. — Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon; noon — Watercolors

• Friday: 10 a.m. — Comedy Hour

• Monday: 10 a.m. — Easter Bingo; noon — Garden Planting

• Tuesday: 9:30 a.m. — Veteran’s Appreciation Program; 10 a.m. — Bingo; 11 a.m. — Bible Study; 11:30 a.m. — Pot Luck Lunch; noon — Watercolors

• Wednesday: 10 a.m. — Singing Class; noon — Easter Fun and Game

Sue Walker is the executive director of the Etowah Area Senior Citizens Center. She may be reached by calling 423-781-7632.

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