A Bethlehem based nonprofit has been awarded a $220,500 grant from the federal government to re-establish a senior citizens volunteer program in the Lehigh Valley.
ShareCare Faith in Action has been awarded the grant to rebuild the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) locally by recruiting 420 new senior citizen volunteers to work for local organizations over the next three years.
U.S. Rep. Charlie Dent, R-15, announced the award on Wednesday, which was won through a competitive process and administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that engages more than 5 million Americans in service through Senior Corps, AmeriCorps and Learn and Serve America.
“Citizen service is an essential part of the solution to many of the challenges facing our communities, especially in these difficult economic times,” Dent said. “This grant provides the opportunities for seniors within the Lehigh Valley to utilize a lifetime of skills and experience as a key part of those solutions.”
As the grant fiduciary, ShareCare will hire a program coordinator to recruit senior citizen volunteers for its own program and other Lehigh Valley nonprofits. RSVP had previously existed in the Lehigh Valley, but disappeared when funding sources dried up.
ShareCare’s core mission is to provide free non-emergency services to elderly and handicapped people, including chores, visitations, transportation, shopping, yard work and light housekeeping.
A national program established in 1971, RSVP is now one of the largest senior volunteer organizations in the nation and engages older Americans in volunteer recruitment and management, environmental projects, mentoring and tutoring, and disaster response. RSVP volunteers serve in commitments varying from a few hours to 40 hours per week in a location of their choice.
CNCS estimates that 18.7 million older adults – nearly a quarter of those 55 and over – contributed on average more than 3 billion hours of service in their communities per year between 2008 and 2010. The yearly economic benefit of this service to the nation equals more than $64 billion.