Travel, Leisure & Fun for South Valley Adults

HandsOn Seeks Volunteers 55 and Older

New Year's resolutions offer an opportunity for people to consider the positive changes they can make in their lives. Some of you will join a gym, others will learn to play an instrument, while others may finally write the book they have been talking about for years.

For some seniors, the new year is a time to consider ways to get more involved in the community and put their talents and years of experience to good use by helping others.

If you fall into the last category, you should be aware that HandsOn Central California (HOCC) wants you.

HOCC is the sponsoring agency for AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP, the senior volunteer program in seven counties, including Kings and Tulare Counties.

RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) is a national service program, designed to recruit skilled, experienced, active adults ages 55 and older for volunteer activities to meet the needs of their communities.

An estimated 500,000 people 55 years old or older are serving nationally in more than 8,000 locally sponsored projects to support their community as Senior Corps RSVP members.

HandsOn Central California RSVP members help build low income housing, feed those in need, help families in need with clothing and household goods, provide meals to isolated seniors, provide senior companionship, support veterans services, provide support to local city government, act as ambassadors to the Central Valley and much more.

Volunteer opportunities are as varied as the interests of the senior volunteers.

Senior volunteers have knitted clothing and blankets for children, served with the California Highway Patrol, worked with children as tutoring mentors, and taught others about disaster preparation, explained Elba Scherer, HOCC RSVP coordinator.

"It's extremely beneficial for seniors to volunteer," said Scherer. "It gives them a purpose to get them out the door. It breaks down barriers and isolation."

Scherer appreciates what volunteers 55 and older bring to HOCC.

"They have the time, they have the talent, and they have the experience and skills," she said. "They come from a generation that tended to be more service-minded. They tend to be reliable volunteers and more invested volunteers."

There are three programs for senior volunteers under the AmeriCorps umbrella, which HOCC helps staff and coordinate. In addition to RSVP, AmeriCorps oversees Senior Companions, which coordinates visits for otherwise isolated seniors, and Foster Grandparents, who tutor and mentor kids.

HOCC partners with organizations on various projects, including the Red Cross, Tulare County Habitat for Humanity, and the Make-a-Wish Foundation. A program with the Fresno VA Medical Center Caring Corps had volunteers call isolated and lonely veterans, as well as make uplifting greeting cards for them.

"The caring cards are very popular with seniors who wish to be creative," said Scherer. "They are also very popular with senior ladies who can utilize their extra supplies, and the cards remind people that, 'Someone is thinking of me. I'm not alone.'"

The amount of time a senior volunteer gives is "up to them," she said. "It really depends on the job."

Some food bank volunteers work for four hours a week, while "others put in 40 hours a week," said Sherer, who added that there are also home-based opportunities for volunteers.

"These are good for seniors who have health issues or are immunocompromised but still want to give back," she said.

For more information about HandsOn, including volunteering opportunities, visit, call (559) 237-3101 or email


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