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Taking action to help others

Posted on Wednesday, August 21, 2013 at 12:19 pm

Martin Luther King, Jr. once said: “Everybody can be great, because anybody can serve.  You only need a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love.”

Volunteering is generally defined as an activity performed by someone with concern for the welfare of others and is intended to promote good or improved human quality of life.  In return, this activity can produce a feeling of self-worth and respect.  There is no financial gain involved.  Volunteering is also renowned for skill development, socialization and fun.

The verb “volunteer” was originally defined as “one who offers himself for military service”.  While still predominantly military, it has more recently been used to coincide with the word “community service.”

Prior to the 19th century, few formal charitable organizations existed.  During this time, America experienced the Great Awakening.  People became aware of the disadvantaged and younger people started helping the needy in their communities.  In 1851, the first YMCA in the United States was started, followed seven years later by the first YWCA.

The Great Depression saw one of the first large-scale nationwide efforts to coordinate volunteering for a specific need.  During WW II, thousands of volunteer offices supervised the volunteers who helped with the many needs of the military and the home front, including collecting supplies, entertaining soldiers on leave, and caring for the injured.

After WW II, the people shifted the focus of their desire to meet the needs and welfare of the citizenry to other areas, including helping the poor and aged.  When President Lyndon B. Johnson declared a War on Poverty in 1964, volunteer opportunities started to expand and continued in the next few decades.  The process for finding volunteer work became more formalized, with more volunteer centers formed.

Today, we have Bay Aging’s RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) serving the Counties of Essex, Gloucester, King & Queen, King William, Lancaster, Mathews, Middlesex, Northumberland, Richmond, Westmoreland, and the town of West Point.

Some of the opportunities for our seniors and volunteers include (but are not limited to):

– Meals on Wheels Program provides for delivery of hot and nutritious lunches to the homebound and to elderly residents in the community.

– Hands Across, providing clothing and other necessities

– Active Lifestyle Centers, a place where our seniors can go to socialize, play games, and participate in activities that stimulate the mind and body.  (Did you know there is an ALC in every County we serve?)

– Local Hospitals, where a volunteer can man the information desk, deliver reading materials to patients or work in a gift shop.

– Nursing Homes, providing companionship to a lonely resident or assisting in activities of fun and music.

– TRIAD, working with local law enforcement to reduce the criminal victimization of the elderly and enhance the delivery of law enforcement services to others; neighborhood watch programs.

– Friendly Call or Visitor Program, from the comfort of your home you can reach out via telephone to a senior that just needs to be checked on and needs to hear a friendly voice; or visit them in their homes to let them know someone cares and is there to help them.

– Food Banks providing an opportunity to distribute food to those in need in your community.

– Libraries offer the opportunity for administrative service or development of a reading program for children and seniors.

– Local Schools provides a volunteer a number of opportunities from tutoring to mentoring.

– Free Health Clinics, provides opportunities for professionals (physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, nurse practitioners) as well as an opportunity for volunteers to work as a receptionist or assist with scheduling.

– Med Carry provides the opportunity for much needed transportation for seniors to their doctor’s appointments or other medical needs.

Organizations like ours can not function or succeed without the energy and input of volunteers like you.  There is a need for volunteers to work to improve community enhancement efforts in the area in which they live.  Neighborhood, church, civic, and community groups play a key role in building strong communities from the neighborhoods up.  As a volunteer, you can play an important role in a specific area that is a passion for you or you can be involved in a wide range of services which connect social, environmental, and economic boundaries.  Each individual brings a unique perspective, which fosters relationships and interaction with others.  In a modern society which shares a common value of people helping each other; not only do volunteer acts assist others, but they also benefit the volunteering individual on a personal level.  Volunteering is the perfect way to feel connected to your community.  The simple act of offering your skills and enthusiasm will positively impact the lives of others, as well as your own.

As the Wizard of Oz said; “A doer of good does it for the good of others.”

We invite you to explore volunteering opportunities in your community.  Help us help others.

Do you want to be great?  Do you have a heart full of grace and a soul generated by love?  If so, would you consider becoming a volunteer?

For information please contact us at:

Phone RSVP –  804-758-8853.

Email: RSVP@bayaging.org.