SOURCE: The National Association for Area Agencies on Aging

The National Association for Area Agencies on Aging

May 16, 2012 10:30 ET

The Aging Network's Volunteer Collaborative Is Launched to Fill Expanding Gap Between Critical Social Needs and Diminishing Funding for Human Services

Goal Announced to Reach One Million Volunteers by 2015

WASHINGTON, DC--(Marketwire - May 16, 2012) - To support the growing population of elderly and disabled Americans, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging and its partners today announced an initiative to increase the number of older adult volunteers to one million by 2015. The Aging Network's Volunteer Collaborative is a comprehensive on-line resource center to help leaders in the aging and disability networks engage 55+ adult volunteers to expand and improve services.

In Washington, DC today, representatives from the Administration on Aging and new Administration for Community Living, the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD), the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and the Metropolitan Area Agency on Aging, Inc. explained how the changing characteristics of today's volunteers, and their mushrooming numbers, creates an unprecedented opportunity to mobilize healthy older adults to help their peers struggling to get needed services.

"Volunteers have always been a critical part of how we provide supportive services to older people and their caregivers," said Edwin Walker, the Deputy Assistant Secretary, Administration on Aging, Administration for Community Living. "Today we have the largest and most capable group of healthy adults turning 65, and we need them more than ever as volunteers, as the population of older persons needing assistance continues to grow. The Volunteer Collaborative will be the vehicle that fosters, supports, and modernizes volunteerism in the aging and disability networks," he said.

The Volunteer Collaborative is a virtual meeting place for Aging Network professionals to come together and is designed to stimulate and support volunteer development through sharing successes, webinars, discussion forums and developing policy. It provides the tools the network members and community service providers need to successfully and efficiently engage today's older adults in the right way to increase the capacity of organizations providing services and to meet the increasing demand for critical services.

"The 55+ population represents a transformational social force for organizations and communities," said Sandy Markwood, CEO, n4a. "To realize this transformation, we need to re-think and reframe what we know about volunteering and find new ways to engage older adults in more professional and leadership volunteer roles to increase the capacity of non-profit organizations. At the same time, we need to bring those in need of service to the table and empower them to advocate for what is needed to remain independent with choices and the ability to maintain a life with dignity and purpose. The Volunteer Collaborative gives the Aging Network members a resource from which they can learn best practices and find ways to implement new processes that in the long run will result in the additional support they and their communities require."

NASUAD supports states to meet the service needs of older adults and persons with disabilities. "With the economic downturn and its impact on states, we realize that we must expand our thinking about resources," said Martha Roherty, Executive Director of NASUAD.

"NASUAD members get it. We get the importance of developing the national human resource asset that older adults now represent. We get that it will take all of us to fulfill our national commitment and promise to enable those with disabilities and those late in life to have meaning, dignity, choice, and purpose until the end of life. It is critical that the state aging and service networks learn to work together so we can align our initiatives to maximize the people power that the growing number of older adults represent," she said.

The Aging Network's Volunteer Collaborative can be accessed at www.AgingNetworkVolunteerCollaborative.org.

About The Aging Network's Volunteer Collaborative
The Volunteer Collaborative is an on-line resource to assist the Aging Network in engaging and empowering older adults and maximizing their leadership skills and experiences. It is funded by the Administration on Aging and led by National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) in partnership with AARP, the AARP Foundation, the Center for Certification of Volunteer Administrators, the Corporation of National and Community Service and the National Association of States United for Aging and Disabilities (NASUAD).

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