More volunteering opportunities available through Family Services of Central Massachusetts
By Evan Walsh, Contributing Writer
REGION – Are you looking for ways to get involved in the community?
Family Services of Central Massachusetts has several exciting opportunities to make “giving back your second act.”
For example, the RSVP Program, one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation, helps those 55 and older “use the skills and talents [they’ve] learned over the years… while serving in a variety of volunteer opportunities.” For instance, those eager to support children can help tutor, become an advocate for a child in court, or support children’s literacy. Those interested in health and wellness might enjoy volunteering at a community garden or food pantry.
RSVP Program participants have previously volunteered at the EcoTarium, Mechanics Hall, Red Cross and other non-profit organizations.
“The volunteers feel motivated – they have something to look forward to, something to get them out of the house… They feel good about what they’re doing; they’re giving back to the community,” said Senior Volunteer Program Managing Director Joy Rehfeld, who has been helping find enticing volunteer opportunities for the last decade.
The RSVP is a program of AmeriCorps Seniors, which also includes the Senior Companion Program. The Senior Companion Program “focuses on providing assistance and companionship to older adults who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills. Through this program, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers keep seniors independent longer and provide respite to family caregivers, along with providing service to several area adult day health locations.
“With the Senior Companion Program, those volunteers are providing home companionship to people who are isolated who are living in their own homes or apartments. They provide companionship, they visit, keep them happy,” Rehfeld explained. “[The elderly] look forward to the volunteer coming to see them, spending time with them. It gives them something to look forward to. It also gives the volunteer something to look forward to as well.”
And then there’s the most theatrical group: the Fraud Squad Players, the group of volunteer actors who educate about scams and frauds, how to spot them, and most importantly, how to avoid them.
Though there is no shortage of volunteer opportunities, the number of volunteers has been down since COVID-19. Rehfeld hopes that more people around Worcester County see the incredible variety of available opportunities.
“We’re constantly recruiting volunteers,” she said. “A lot of times, the existing volunteers are our best recruiters because they talk about what we’re doing and then they get people involved… I enjoy what I do. I’m helping people stay active, helping people stay healthy. They’re out there still using the skills that they have – that they’ve been using their whole lifetime. [Staying] mentally fit is so important.”
All of these exciting opportunities are coordinated by Family Services of Central Massachusetts, an affiliate of the Seven Hills Foundation. Family Services of Central Massachusetts has been providing high-quality support, guidance, and counseling to the Worcester area for over 130 years. In addition to the senior volunteering opportunities, the organization offers home care services, community mediation, and early childhood professional development and apprenticeship.
For more information, please visit https://www.sevenhills.org/affiliates/family-services-of-central-massachusetts.