National Service News: Age Ain't Nothing But a Number in Service

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A Senior Corps RSVP volunteer serves on a housing project.


Age Ain't Nothing But a Number in Service

As one ages in our youth-obsessed culture, the benchmark for success seems to be how long you can hang on to qualities like a full head of hair and, um, muscle tone. But is a body built for CrossFit the key to a happy life?

Maybe not. We recently read a study that found happiness levels decline from the late teen years until you reach 40, then starts to rise again at 46. 

Want to guess when people in the study were the happiest? Age 74.

The study concluded that this happiness was derived from older people being more appreciative, leading one doctor to note, "If you make fruitful use of what you have discovered about yourself in the first half of your life, the second half can be the most fulfilling."

At the Corporation for National and Community Service, we get to see both sides of this coin. We admire the drive and dedication our younger AmeriCorps members show every day, but our Senior Corps volunteers are pretty special, too.

Our RSVP, Foster Grandparent, and Senior Companion volunteers engage in a variety of service opportunities that directly benefit people in the communities they serve. While serving, they reap the benefits of better health and a more positive outlook on life. We know this because our Senior Corps volunteers report improved physical and emotional health, even after just one year of service.

Senior Corps programs are open to adults 55 and older, but we have many volunteers who continue serving into their 80s, 90s, and past the age of 100. In fact, this week we have a story about a Texas woman who has volunteered at a local hospital through RSVP for nearly 30 years and still serves twice each week at 100.

We are going to go out on a limb and say that she is making the most of the second half of her life. 

Volunteering is something that pays off whether you are a teen, adult or a senior; whether you have years of experience or are just starting out.

Age ain't nothing but a number when it comes to service because everyone has something to contribute.

In service, 

CNCS Office of External Affairs

The Impact of National Service

100-year-old Connie Dickinson talks with a visitor at the front desk while volunteering at Baptist Hospital. (Photo by Ryan Pelham/The Enterprise)

100-Year-Old SETX Woman Spends Days Volunteering at Hospital (Senior Corps)

Twice a week, Connie Dickinson, 100, wakes up early, gets behind the wheel or her 2002 Buick and drives to Baptist Hospital Beaumont, where she volunteers. "I just love it," said Dickinson, who has volunteered at the hospital's information desk for nearly three decades. "It gives you something to do and it gets me out with people." Dickinson answers the phone and directs visitors to patients' rooms. She chats with children, congratulates new moms and dads and visits with interesting characters.

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Reading Partners started with six schools in 2015 and hopes to serve 13 schools in the Twin Cities by next year.

Reading Partners: One Child. One Tutor. Infinite Possibilities. 

One child. One tutor. Infinite possibilities. This is the motto of Reading Partners, 2300 Myrtle Ave., a nonprofit designed to increase the reading level of children in Title 1 schools. By using tutors to work one-on-one with children in K-5th grade, Reading Partners has made a great impact on these students and their ability to read at or above their grade level. “The program started in California in 1999,” said Karen Casanova, executive director of the Twin Cities Reading Partners. “The first decade was about working on a program model and testing the curriculum. Once that was ready to go, there was a rapid expansion after 2010. Federal funding helped bring the program to other cities. We are now operating in 14 cities nationwide, Minneapolis-St. Paul became the 13th location to adopt the program.”

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Tuscon city leaders and others recently gathered to celebrate the success of Operation AmeriCorps in the city's schools.

Tucson Community Schools Initiative Celebrates Success with AmeriCorps 

Deep in the south side of Tucson, Ariz., sits Pueblo Magnet High School, home to more than 1,500 students from one of the city’s lowest-income areas. The school, a member of the Tucson Community Schools Initiative, recently hosted a press conference to celebrate the past two years of the Operation AmeriCorps initiative, as well as its continued funding. In 2015, the Tucson Mayor’s Office partnered with intermediary organization Arizona Serve at Prescott College to apply for an Operation AmeriCorps grant, which harnessed all three streams of the national service program to implement a community schools model in eight different high schools across three districts. This model transforms school campuses into resource hubs that can be conveniently accessed by community members who are already served by those schools.

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