The Montgomery Area Council on Aging rebooted the program in Talladega in October 2012 after previous sponsors relinquished the project. The program had been dormant for a little more than a year.
Upon the program’s reinstatement, its focus changed, concentrating on increasing veteran participation and assisting veterans within the community.
According to the 2010 census, more than 5 percent of Talladega County’s residents are veterans ages 55 or older.
Ginny Archer, the program’s director, encouraged veterans and non-veterans over the age of 55 to get involved.
“Volunteering is beneficial to any senior citizen, particularly our veterans,” Archer said. “It helps improve their quality of life and engages them with their local community. Our society as a whole has taken a recent interest in doing as much as possible to take care of our veterans than in past years.”
According to a medical study referenced by Archer found at www.nationalservice.gov/pdf/07_0506_hbr_brief.pdf, seniors who volunteer at least 2 hours per week experience several health benefits — lower mortality rates, greater functional ability and lower rates of depression — as well as morale boosts gained from increased physical and social activity, a sense of purpose and achievement, and increased social networks to help combat stress.
Since its revival, Archer enlisted the aid of 17 veteran volunteers and five non-veteran volunteers.
“Our efforts through this program are an extension of what the Veteran Affairs office is already doing,” Archer said. “We are actively seeking more volunteers to help us with our cause.”
Veteran volunteers can choose from a multitude of volunteer opportunities for organizations throughout the area, including American Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, Indian Valley School and J. Craig Smith Community Center. More information about these opportunities and others can be found at www.tallarsvp.org.
“With RSVP, you choose how and where you would like to serve,” Archer said. “You choose the amount of time you want to give and you choose whether you want to draw on your own skills or develop new ones.”
Non-veteran volunteers can serve by volunteering at the Veterans Affairs Clinic in Sylacauga.
Fred Pearson, a retired Vietnam War veteran who also serves as commander of American Legion Post 45 in Sylacauga, maintains a role as an active volunteer in the program.
“There are many veterans who need help getting the benefits they earned while serving their country,” Pearson said. “We also have many homeless veterans out there who need help, too. Volunteering my time helps ensure my fellow veterans are getting the help they need.”
For more information on the program or to volunteer, call 256-267-3692 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Contact Shane Dunaway at email@example.com.