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Cuts Threaten to Kill Senior Volunteer Programs
Wednesday, March 16, 2011 • Posted March 16, 2011

Hill Country RSVP Program

Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Llano, Mason, Milam, Mills and San Saba Counties – HR 1, the Continuing Resolution for fiscal year 2011 passed by the House of Representatives on February 19, 2011 eliminates funding for the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) and the programs it administers, including the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, the Foster Grandparent Program, and the Senior Companion Program (collectively the" Senior Corps"), as well as AmeriCorps, VISTA, and Learn and Serve America.

CNCS is an independent federal department in the Executive Branch. CNCS administers programs that use service as a strategy to address critical issues—health, education, conservation, veterans and military families, and poverty. Each program makes a lasting impact on the volunteer as well as the community.

Senior Corps is a very important collection of programs under CNCS that is slated for elimination under HR 1. Eliminating CNCS would abolish Senior Corps "firing" more than 450,000 senior volunteers nationwide, depleting vital services to the people, young and old, who rely on them. Because CNCS recognizes that the best ideas come from within our communities rather than Washington DC, CNCS invests in community solutions, tapping the energy and ingenuity of the American people to solve problems.

Senior Corps Programs:

CNCS’s budget of about $1.1 billion helps millions of Americans provide vital services to millions more of their most vulnerable neighbors. About 450,000 of those volunteers are senior volunteers:

• Foster Grandparents: 29,100 ($111 million)

• Retired and Senior Volunteer Program: approximately 400,000 older volunteers ($63 million)

• Senior Companions: 14,680 ($47 million)

The Foster Grandparent Program (FGP), connects older volunteers with opportunities to provide one on one mentoring, nurturing, and support to children with special needs, exceptional needs, or who are academically, socially, or financially disadvantaged. In turn, Foster Grandparent volunteers derive significant emotional and health benefits from their service, which can improve their quality of life and provide them with a strong sense of purpose. Perhaps most important, FGP volunteers provide nurturing interaction and positive role modeling to develop trust, friendship, and respect.

Foster Grandparents may serve 15 up to 40 hours a week, and receive a small stipend to defray the cost of volunteering on low-income volunteers

In FY 2010, 29,100 FGP volunteers delivered 24 million hours of service in their communities. More than 137,000 children were mentored by Foster Grandparents, nearly 7,000 whom were children of incarcerated parents.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) volunteers (who are non-stipend volunteers) delivered more than 62 million hours of service by working with a network of more than 65,000 nonprofit organizations. For four decades RSVP has worked nonprofit and public organizations to provide seniors with meaningful volunteer opportunities through which they meet the needs in their communities. A growing number of baby boomers volunteer through RSVP at an average federal cost of less than $140 per volunteer. In addition, RSVP raised $52 million or 46 percent of grant funds in 2009, far exceeding the program’s required 30 percent match.

Annually, RSVP volunteers help 676,000 seniors live independently, training them to be alert for financial scammers who prey on their vulnerability. In addition, RSVP volunteers mentor more than 16,000 children, and provide assistance to victims of natural disasters from New Orleans to Iowa.

The Senior Companion Program (SCP) provides a cost-effective option in the continuum of care available to the nation’s aging population. Each year, Senior Companion volunteers provide the companionship and support needed to help thousands of older and frail adults remain independent, in their homes, at a cost much lower than institutional care. Senior Companions also offer much needed respite to family caregivers.

Senior Companions serve between 15 and 40 hours per week and income eligible volunteers receive a modest monetary hourly stipend.

In FY 2010, 14,680 SCP volunteers delivered 12.2 million hours of service in their communities, taking care of the in-home needs of approximately 66,304 frail, older adults and others with physical or other limitations. They transport clients to medical appointments, help shop for food and basic necessities; provide companionship to offset isolation; and offer respite to nearly 9,300 family members and informal caregivers.

Cost Effective National Infrastructure:

Senior Corps programs, RSVP, FGP, and SCP, leverage community support throughout the United States to help solve community problems, at the most cost effective way possible. With some 70 million baby boomers expected to retire in the coming decades we need Senior Corps to provide them with extraordinary high quality volunteer opportunities through which to serve their communities. Senior Corps is the only national infrastructure we have capable of performing this important job in a cost effective manner.

Statewide, 25,809 Senior Corps volunteers contributed 5.8 million hours valued at more than $120.9 million through Foster Grandparents, Senior Companions, and RSVP in Texas.  The $10.6 million in federal funding for FGP, RSVP, and SCP granted to Texas leverages over $800 million in local dollars. These volunteers help stretch government, educational and non-profit agency dollars by assisting in preparation and delivery of meals to homebound, providing transportation for medical needs, providing companionship and outreach to help increase independent living for the aging and mentoring children in schools and after school programs, to name a few.

Locally, the Hill Country RSVP program covers Bell, Coryell, Hamilton, Lampasas, Llano, Mason, Milam, Mills and San Saba Counties. 1,535 RSVP volunteers contribute 222,705 hours annually at 150 volunteer stations. Every day Hill Country RSVP volunteers make a profound difference in our community by assisting in delivery of health services, mentoring and/or tutoring children in schools, delivery of meals to the homebound, companionship to the homebound, and transportation services just to name a few. The elimination of CNCS and/or Senior Corps and the funds associated with those programs will have a drastic effect on millions of people all over the US, including our own community, to people most in need of these services.

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