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Letter to the editor: Seniors can derive many benefits from volunteering

According to the Vermont Department on Aging, 23.8 percent of Vermonters will be over the age of 65 by 2032, which will rank Vermont’s population as the oldest in the nation. This will have widespread implications for Vermont’s health care system and local communities.
As the percentage of older individuals in Vermont’s population increases, it will be essential to engage this demographic and improve their lives. Volunteering is one way to do this. Seniors cannot only reap health benefits but can also actively contribute to their communities through volunteering. Volunteerism offers numerous health benefits and rewards for older individuals.
Growing research from the National Institute on Aging shows a positive relationship between volunteering and physical and mental health in seniors. In particular, studies have shown that older individuals who volunteer live longer, report lower disability and have higher levels of well-being. Senior volunteers also provide valuable services and meet a variety of community needs in critical areas such as human services, elder care, health and education.
RSVP, a local nonprofit whose mission it is to deploy volunteers and develop programming centered on volunteer service, refers volunteers age 55 and up to area nonprofits that serve community members of all ages. RSVP also coordinates several programs that allow older individuals to stay healthy, engaged and financially stable.
According to a 2016 report from the Vermont House Human Services Committee, RSVP volunteers provided 231,701 hours of service to Vermonters. The estimated value of this volunteer time is $5,292,051. RSVP volunteers make a real difference to the lives of people, animals and organizations in need.
Encouraging seniors to volunteer locally provides a great benefit to both themselves and the Addison County community. Seniors looking to volunteer and nonprofits looking for volunteers should contact RSVP at 388-7044.
Alix O’Meara
Middlebury

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