ElderCircle offers many opportunities that benefit older adults, their families, and their caregivers by providing services, education, support and advocacy. Low or no-cost programs focus on keeping older adults living independently by offering rides to medical appointments, grocery delivery, home repairs, in-home care, lawn care, snow removal, and respite care.

ElderCircle’s mission is “empowering older adults to maintain active living and healthy independence”, and volunteering is one way that people can remain active. Many studies indicate that as little as 50 volunteer hours a year, or just one hour a week, improves the health and wellbeing of the volunteer by providing purpose and a sense of contribution, along with socialization and relationships. Benefits of volunteering also include giving back to build a stronger community, building a resume for a college application or dream job, maintaining physical and mental health, meeting personal goals and helping drive an agency’s mission forward.

In addition to independent living services, ElderCircle offers Volunteer Services and Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) that connects volunteers of all ages with meaningful opportunities throughout Itasca County, not just for ElderCircle. In 2018, 35 organizations were served by 551 enrolled volunteers logging 62,000+ hours to meet the organizations’ missions and better serve their clients. “Volunteering is a win-win-win for all,” stated RSVP Director Lisa Randall. “Volunteers help organizations better serve clients which strengthens the community, organizations are more effective, and the volunteer experiences health benefits for themselves.”

“Affectionately known as the “match.com for volunteering”, Volunteer Services/RSVP is coordinated by ElderCircle, but serves many agencies in our area,” stated Executive Director Renee Bymark. “Volunteers come to us looking for ways to serve, and agencies come to us looking for volunteers so we make the match that best fits the volunteer’s expertise, interests and skills.”

If you are someone who likes to read, write, coordinate, teach, pack, advocate, organize, run, shop, plant, file, cook, build, speak, clean, craft, use your hands, or plan parties, then ElderCircle can match your passion with a volunteer position that inspires you. Volunteers of all ages are invited to stop in at ElderCircle to learn about the different agencies in the community who are seeking volunteers, and how to connect with those opportunities. By discussing what most matters to you, what skills you have to offer, and what your schedule may allow, ElderCircle will help you make a connection.

Lloyd Adams, a longtime volunteer and the 2013 Minnesota State Outstanding Senior Volunteer award said, “I started volunteering just to keep busy after I retired, but I continue because of the friendships I’ve made and the difference I see in the lives of others. Volunteering also helps counteract when I’m not feeling well, and keeps stress and anxiety away.”

In the coming weeks, black and white “Volunteer” yard signs will be seen throughout the community. You may notice a sign at the end of your road that says “Make a difference--VOLUNTEER Today” and think to yourself, “I would really like to volunteer somewhere,” and continue on your way to work. A few days later you may see a similar sign that reads, “VOLUNTEER—it’s good for your soul!” and wonder “where would I find the time?” A week later, while in the clinic waiting room, you hear an older woman telling the gal seated next to her how thankful she is for the volunteer driver who drove her to the appointment that she would have otherwise missed, and you think to yourself, “I could really make a difference for someone…” On the drive home from the clinic, you see another sign that reads, “Improve your community--VOLUNTEER” and this time you take notice that the signs also read, “ElderCircle enrolls volunteers of all ages”. The next day, you call ElderCircle to learn more, and discover that there are countless volunteer opportunities available in Itasca County that can be matched up with your schedule, your interests and your expertise. A few months after volunteering just one hour a week, the next thing you know, the happier, healthier you is sharing your skills and knowledge to help others.

In an effort to spread the word about volunteer opportunities, residents and businesses are invited to post a “Volunteer—it’s good for your soul” sign in your yard or at your business for a couple weeks late in August. For more information on volunteering opportunities or if you want to help spread the word, contact ElderCircle at 218-999-9233, ecircle@eldercircle.org or in person at the office located on the YMCA Campus at 400 River Road, Grand Rapids.

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