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by Maria

PowerUP! Ad Templates Made Easy

December 11, 2013 in Making a Difference

If you’re working on plans for the New Year, here’s an idea: Kick off 2014 with a campaign to recruit a volunteer team that extends your agency’s capacity.

Not sure how to start? Did you know the PowerUP! initiative has produced recruitment templates that you can use for free?

A variety of templates are available. Today, let’s talk about how to use the templates for print and web ads.

Print Ads:PowerUP! Ad

These are professionally designed ads with a headline of “Change Your Neighbor’s World. Change Your Own.” They include supporting text that has been tested with older adults and aging field professionals that highlights older adults’ need for help and the benefits that volunteering provides.

They come in two sizes: ½ page and ¼ page. To each ad, you can add your agency’s volunteer needs and contact information.

To use the template and prepare a print ad to send to a publication, simply download the file and save it to your computer. Then open it from your computer and enter your agency’s information:

  • In the first box, the volunteer roles and/or tasks you’d like to fill.
  • In the second box, your agency’s contact information.

Then save the ad, and it’s ready to go to your local newspaper, an area civic club, a newsletter for a nearby church, or the like.

Web Banner Ad:PowerUP-Web-banner-4-13

You can supplement your print ads with a web banner ad.

You could place this banner on a website that potential volunteers would be likely to use—such as a local blog or newspaper, a community organization, or a faith-based organization.

You also could put a copy of the banner on your own website. That way, when people who have seen your print ad come to your site, they can easily see where to find more information on your volunteer needs.

You will not need to customize the web banner. You can simply place it on a website (yours and/or others’) and link it to the page on your website that provides more information about your volunteer needs.

Web Banner Ad on Your Website and/or Community Website  >>  Links to Page on Your Website with Volunteer Needs

You might want to link the ad to one of these pages:

  • A special page on your website that mentions your volunteer program and your contact information.
  • Your Contact Us page.
  • Your home page or another page on your site that specifically mentions your volunteer program and includes your contact information.

To find the correct link, go to the page you’d like the ad to link to. Then copy the URL from the box at the top of your web browser (such as Internet Explorer, Firefox, etc.). Send that URL and this banner to the person who will place the ad. And you’re off to the races!

Want to publicize even more? Check out the full list of PowerUP! templates!

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by Maria

13 Recruiting Templates for You

November 13, 2013 in Making a Difference

As the season for giving approaches, it’s a great time to ask for volunteers.

Did you know there is a full suite of marketing templates you can use to recruit them? Produced this spring as part of the PowerUP! initiative, these templates are professionally designed as a service to you. And they’re all available on the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative website.

The 13 PowerUP! recruiting templates run the gamut from sample ads and articles for your newsletter to sample press releases, with plenty of items in between.

Customize Them for Your Needs

You may customize all of these templates to meet your agency’s needs. Some templates are Word documents that you can use as a framework and edit, adding your own information.

Other templates—the print ads, flyer, and postcard—are PDF files that you can download and edit. They have special fields where you can list your volunteer needs and contact information. The headline and artwork stays intact, to save you the time and expense of creating your own. You can print these at your office or send the file to a printer.

Template List

Over the coming weeks, we’ll be featuring individual templates and how you can use them to create a volunteer recruiting campaign that sings. This time, we’d like to share a quick overview of what’s available:

Print/Online/On Air:

Online:

Press Outreach Materials:

Please check them out, use them to entice volunteers to your next project, and let us know what you think.  Have you used the templates already?  If so, please give us your thoughts in the Comments below. We’d love your feedback—what worked for you plus any improvements you’d suggest.

We look forward to hearing from you!

 

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by Maria

Volunteer Programs Win Awards

August 28, 2013 in Making a Difference

At three Area Agencies on Aging, volunteers have helped provide older adults with holiday gifts, free computers and computer classes, and companionship.

These programs were three of the 57 that received 2013 Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards and had a strong volunteer component. The awards, sponsored by CST your Link to Life (CST-LTL), were given at the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) 2013 annual conference, held in Louisville,KY, in late July.

  • Giving Holiday Gifts to Older Adults

Angel Tree/Generations, Area 13 Agency on Aging (Vincennes, IN) – 2013 Aging Achievement Award

By partnering, Generations clients are able to receive gifts through the Christmas Angel Tree Project run by St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.  The project originally granted Christmas wishes to less fortunate children, and then enlisted the help of Generations in 2010 to include older adults. Case managers submit the names of clients needing help. Parishioners anonymously purchase gifts for a child or an older adult, wrap them and return them to the church. Case managers personally deliver the gifts to their clients during home visits.

Budget: There are no direct costs for Generations. RSVP volunteers collect names and make tags, and their office is the distribution site for all the gifts.

Accomplishments: In 2012, 50 homebound clients received gifts, and their joy is immeasurable. Items include postage stamps, envelopes, grocery gift cards, pet treats, and blood pressure cuffs and bathroom scales that help monitor chronic health concerns.

Replication: Partner with a church, club or organization to provide a similar project at any time of the year.

Contact: Jane Hall, Proposal/Project Manager, Generations

  • Getting Older Adults Online

Choice & Independence via Technology, Region IV Area Agency on Aging (St. Joseph, MI) – 2013 Aging Innovations Award

This program is based on a partnership and since 2010 has provided 180 low-income seniors more than 3,500 hours of free basic computer classes and 115 free refurbished computers.

The internet has the potential to deliver health information to older adults, expanding their ability to live active, independent lives. Yet many seniors lack the skills and technology to access that information. Recognizing access to technology as an essential vehicle for maximizing choice and independence, Region IV Area Agency on Aging (RIV) partnered with local industry, funders, volunteers and the Workforce Development Board to create the Choice & Independence via Technology program.

The program provides low-income seniors free basic computer classes and, upon completion, a free refurbished computer if they do not own one. Scholarships provide additional classes for those interested in personal enrichment or gaining marketable skills. Also, to expand the effectiveness and reach of the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP), RIV developed classes on navigating Medicare resources and benefit information online.

Budget: Startup costs included a mobile learning lab with 13 laptops, one projector and one wireless router ($21,966). Annual costs of $7,600 include volunteer mileage ($600) and scholarships ($7,000). Annual in-kind support from RIV includes staff time ($11,306) and volunteer time ($27,060). RIV secured funding for the laptops and scholarships. A local hospital and manufacturer donate used computers. A computer recycling center and volunteers refurbish the computers.

Accomplishments: Since program inception in 2010, 180 seniors received 3,536 hours of free computer instruction (221 classes). Ninety-two percent report gaining increased marketable job skills, having reduced social isolation, and/or feeling empowered to access health and wellness information via the internet. Low-income seniors received 115 refurbished computers, of which 97 percent still are in use.

Through the Navigating Medicare.gov and Welcome to Medicare classes, 155 Medicare beneficiaries learned to self-educate, access benefit information and make plan choices for themselves.

Replication: The project hinges on strong volunteer recruitment, training and support practices. Partnership development with industry, technology providers and funders is needed for successful program replication.

Contact: Christine Vanlandingham, Fund & Product Development Officer, Region IV Area Agency on Aging

  • Keeping Older Adults Safe and Engaged

YANA (You Are Not Alone)/Central Oregon Council On Aging (Bend, OR) – 2013 Aging Achievement Award

YANA connects highly trained volunteers to seniors as friendly companions. Volunteers regularly make social visits to homebound seniors, do small tasks like changing light bulbs and watering plants, and provide feedback to case manager. They receive two to four hours of quarterly training to ensure knowledge of resources available to seniors and caregivers, how to spot warning signs of problems and safety procedures.

Budget: Donations funded development of training and materials. A volunteer manager coordinates the program with the assistance of interns from a local university gerontology program.

Accomplishments: Feedback from volunteers and seniors is positive. Volunteers are satisfied and ask for more seniors to visit as they enjoy the interaction and socialization.

Replication: The largest component of the program involves training volunteers and establishing effective communication processes.

Contact: Pamela Norr, Executive Officer, Central Oregon Council on Aging

How can volunteers help your agency? Please share your ideas in the Comments below.

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by Maria

SMP: Volunteers Fighting Fraud

July 1, 2013 in Making a Difference

Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP) volunteers are a powerful weapon in the fight to prevent healthcare fraud and medical identity theft.

Recently, their importance was highlighted at Federal Trade Commission (FTC) forum Senior Identity Theft: A Problem in This Day and Age.

Barbara Dieker, Director of the Administration for Community Living Office of Elder Rights, addressed the panel and shared the added value SMP volunteers bring to the fight to prevent healthcare fraud and medical identity theft. She also gave advice on how seniors can protect their personal information.

  • Read “8 Ways to Fight Medical ID Theft” by Rick Kam president and co-founder of ID Experts. A quote from Ms. Dieker is at the end of the article.
  • View the video of the forum; Director Dieker’s portion begins at 1:04.
  • See Director Dieker’s comments, below:

Thanks so much. I’m Barbara Dieker. I’m actually within the Department of Health and Human Services, but I’m within the Administration on Aging, which is now the Administration for Community Living. And more of a comment and kind of an add to some of the things that you mentioned that would be good solutions.

I’m the director of the Office of Elder Rights there. One of my programs that I’m responsible for is a wonderful program called the Senior Medicare Patrol Program. Hopefully some of you have heard of that program and are familiar with it. And the sole purpose of this program is to empower seniors to prevent health care fraud. We basically—it’s a grantee program.

We have 54 grants, one in every state, Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands, and DC. And the purpose is to go out and recruit seniors to basically be trained in Medicare, Medicaid, and other health care programs, but primarily focused on Medicare. And how seniors then can prevent, identify, and report fraud, scams, ID theft, all the things we’re talking about.

So they’re thoroughly trained, these senior volunteers. And then they go into their local communities and they educate their peers on the very things that you were talking about—how to read your Medicare summary notice, how to prevent fraud by hanging up the phone when those telemarketers call, how to protect their personal information, and all the other things you’ve talked about.

And they go out to senior centers and they go out to health care affairs. And they go everywhere. And they work with providers, too, to educate them. And it’s a wonderful program. We have 5,000 senior volunteers across the country right now that are going out and working at the grassroots level to educate their peers and get them excited about how they can help save their Medicare. And many seniors view it that way, saving that money.

And to your point Rick, about redesigning the Medicare summary notice. That has recently been done–more readable. We were asked, as stakeholders, to help with that process. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has redesigned that Medicare summary notice to make it more readable and understandable by seniors. And it’s a big, big improvement.

And we thought it was so important because, obviously, that’s half of what we’re trying to do is tell people, how can you read that Medicare summary notice to identify potential fraud, things that were not billed to you?

We also just—and I won’t monopolize the rest of the time here. But the other thing that we do in addition to outreach and education of seniors is we assist individuals. And again, this is beneficiaries or family members, caregivers, whomever, when they have identified a potential issue. And of course, they don’t know right off whether it’s fraud, or an error, or whatever. But come back to us and we will assist you in either working it through and figuring out if it’s an error or fraud, or getting it into the right hands of the people who can investigate it.

We work hand in glove with the Office of the Inspector General, with CMS and others to make sure it gets into the right slot. So I just wanted to put in a plug for this program. If you’re not familiar with it and you want more information, just go to smpresource.org. And that’s our website that we have for lots and lots of information. And there’s a locator for your SMP in your specific state.

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by Maria

5 Simple Ways to Recruit Volunteers with the PowerUP! Templates

June 12, 2013 in Making a Difference

Summary:

  • PowerUP! recruitment templates are time savers, eye-catching, and effective.
  • They give you 1) No-Fuss Ads, 2) Flyers at the Speed of Flight, 3) Newsletter Articles Made Easy, 4) Social Media Success, and 5) Press Materials to Impress.

*

Do you need help recruiting volunteers?

Many agencies say they do. Now, you can download professionally designed PowerUP! recruitment templates for flyers, ads, press releases, and more, customize them with your agency’s information, then print them in a flash.

They can help you because they are…

  • Time savers. No need to create recruitment materials from scratch. Simply download a template and follow the simple, step-by-step instructions.
  • Eye-catching. Professionally designed with bold colors and appealing photos, they coordinate with the PowerUP! branding, so that your materials will match other agencies’. Working together, we will present older adult volunteering as part of a unified whole, a national effort.
  • Effective. Based on language that research has proven speaks to older adult volunteers, these versions also got the stamp of approval from our volunteer reviewers.

5 Ways PowerUP! Templates Can Help

So what does this collection of templates give you?

1. No-Fuss Ads: Want to place an ad in your local newspaper or newsletter? Simply download the print ad file, type in some bullets that outline your volunteer needs, add your contact information, and hit “save.” Your info will appear nicely formatted within the design.

Need a banner for your web site? It’s even easier. Just download the file, and ask your web developer to insert it into your site, with a link to the page where you talk about volunteering. There are sample scripts for radio and sample TV spots, as well.

2. Flyers at the Speed of Flight: No need to stare at a blank piece of paper! To build a flyer, simply download the file and add a bulleted list of your volunteer opportunities, plus your contact info. Then save it, print it, and give it out. That’s all! In the same way, you can have postcards posthaste.

3. Newsletter Articles Made Easy: A sample newsletter article—plus boilerplate you can cut and paste—gives you a strong framework for how to write about your own program and volunteer needs.

4. Social Media Success: Not sure what to say on social media? Leave these posts to us! Find social media posts that you can cut and paste to your Facebook and/or Twitter accounts to get started.

5. Press Materials to Impress: Find a sample article for a community publication that can guide you in writing yours, plus an ending on the value of older adult volunteers, which you can cut and paste.

You’ll also find a press release that tells the world how your agency has joined a nationwide movement to meet rising demand for aging services by utilizing volunteers in new ways.

Learn more about the PowerUP! templates now!

Please share your ideas, thoughts, or questions in the Comments, below. To find even more ideas for your volunteer program, scroll through other Making a Difference posts.

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by Maria

Beyond Bingo: Senior Center Volunteers Reap Lifelong Learning

May 24, 2013 in Making a Difference

Summary:

  • In seven years, this lifelong learning program grew from two classes at two sites to over 35 topics per semester at six senior centers and residences!
  • The classes have attracted thousands of older adults, including many who never before set foot in a senior center.

***

Welcome to our guest blogger, Pat Dowling from the Erie County RSVP, Erie County Department of Senior Services, NY. Pat answered the Call for What’s Working issued by the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative in the spring of 2012, and her project was honored for its success. To learn more, download the Replication Guide.

Other than nursing homes, senior centers are the local institution most associated with older adults. Many young retirees/Boomers unfortunately perceive the senior center as a place that “old people” go, with cafeteria-style lunches and passive recreational and social activities.

A senior center’s monthly calendar of events usually features parties, outings, exercise or art classes, card games, or bingo. The participants interact primarily with one another, within the senior center, and are very much age-segregated. Trips or community activities usually involve taking a bus with other senior center members to a site, where they tour and dine together.

In our experience, most senior center calendars do not include opportunities for older adults to share their lifetime of skills and experience in the larger community. In fact, volunteer recruitment efforts at senior centers are often not very successful, although research proves that volunteers live longer, report better health and less depression, and have more social connections.

As the Boomers age, volunteering is a way to encourage these 77 million adults to stay active, involved, and healthy. How can we most effectively reach out to Boomers with an invitation to volunteer?

I propose a new model of senior center activity that connects older adults with one another—and connects older adults with the larger community beyond the walls of the senior center. This model adds lifelong learning and civic engagement to the current, long-standing components of nutrition, fitness, and recreation.

In this new model, older adults are seen not just as people who need to be nourished, exercised, and entertained, but as individuals who are valuable resources and providers for their local community, our nation, and the world. Active involvement is encouraged, whether through facilitated discussion on current events or through service activities.

For example, the senior center might sponsor a community gardening project, where volunteer master gardeners join older adults and other volunteers to transform vacant lots into pocket parks or vegetable plots to benefit the local food bank.

The senior center might host an “Earth Day” event with local environmental groups presenting issues of concern to that community. The day could include a service-learning project such as removing invasive species, followed by a reflection session.

The senior center might adopt a HeadStart program or elementary school a few hours a week, to tutor children who are struggling with reading or math or who need compassionate older adults to listen to their troubles and joys.

In addition to giving classes on china painting and bridge, senior centers could ask retired faculty or other professionals to give lectures on government, economics, environment, arts and culture, global affairs, medicine, science, and other topics to provide a forum for learning, discussion, questioning, and informed citizenship.

Erie County, NY, started a lifelong learning program seven years ago, with two classes at two sites, that has now grown to over 35 topics per semester at six senior centers and residences!

The classes have attracted thousands of older adults, including many who never before set foot in a senior center. The classes have become a primary way for RSVP to solicit new volunteers from the general public, and they have dramatically increased our name recognition in the general community. We expect to add a service-learning component in the coming semester.

Please share your ideas, thoughts, or questions in the Comments, below.

To learn more about Erie County’s University Express Program and how it engages seniors, download the project’s Replication Guide. To find even more ideas for your program, scroll through other Making a Difference posts.

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by Maria

Meaningful Engagement

April 17, 2013 in Making a Difference

 

Summary:

  • An organization would not have staff without a Human Resources department.
  • An organization that plans to enlist volunteers and engage them in meaningful projects must have a dedicated professional ready to match the volunteer’s skills with the needs of the organization.

***

Welcome to our guest blogger, Lynn Schemmer-Valleau from the Multnomah County Aging & Disability Services (AAA), Oregon. Lynn answered the Call for What’s Working issued by the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative in the spring of 2012, and her project was honored for its success. To learn more, download the Replication Guide.

At times, there is a struggle for organizations, programs, and schools taking the plunge and utilizing volunteers in meaningful engagement.

It happens so often. A volunteer comes to an organization or a program ready to roll up his or her sleeves, share a wealth of experience in a meaningful way, and make a deep impact on a group or on a project—but the organization is not prepared to take on this type of commitment, expertise, and passion. Organization leaders have only used volunteers for tasks that, while necessary, are often tedious, such as answering phones, stuffing envelopes, making copies, stapling papers, etc. They cry for “more help,” but when help is knocking on their door, they are not prepared to take on the role of coordinating and directing experienced-based volunteerism.

An organization would not have staff without a Human Resources department. Therefore, if the organization plans to enlist volunteers and engage them in meaningful projects, it must have a dedicated professional ready to match the volunteer’s skills with the needs of the organization.

My example today is with the public school system. Their budgets have been slashed so severely and they are staffed so thinly that they now seem to be stuck in a “pickle” when it comes to utilizing volunteers. They could use skills-based volunteers who are committed to a regular schedule to support the large classrooms, work one-on-one with students who are struggling or learning English, help out in the cafeteria by modeling good behaviors and setting the example of how to be a good citizen of the school, and the like. However, there is often no one in the school who can take on the task of orienting new volunteers, getting them connected to the students who are in need, and plugging them in to the operations that help educate all students enrolled.

Schools work well with stay-at-home parents who want to drop in and help staple together book readers or make copies or chaperone a field trip. They know what to do with student teachers who are in training. Teachers are grateful for this type of support and are usually incredibly thankful to receive the gift of a student teacher for a semester or to have parents engaged in their child’s learning. However, other types of volunteerism in the schools are proving to be challenging for some, due to the lack of available personnel to match the volunteer’s skills and schedule with meaningful student engagement.

As a professional in the field of volunteer administration, I’m always working to educate the public about the importance of volunteerism and civic engagement, and how organizations can prepare themselves to really engage their volunteers—tapping into their skills and aligning the volunteer with the strategic plan of the agency. I find myself running into roadblocks with some that are just unable or unwilling to see the value in investing in a point person/coordinator to work with volunteers for meaningful engagement. This is frustrating to me as well as to the older adults/retirees that I work with who are ready and willing to begin service as a tutor and mentor with youth in their community.

There are many models out there for using skills-based volunteers. The Corporation for National and Community Service, Points of Light Foundation, and the Council for Certification in Volunteer Administration, to name only a few, have loads of information on this topic.

What has worked in your community? How has your agency or school transitioned from using volunteers for only small tasks to using skilled volunteers to help increase or deepen the impact your organization has on the community?

Please share your ideas, thoughts, or questions in the Comments, below.

To learn more about the volunteer program at Multnomah County Aging & Disability Services (AAA), download the project’s Replication Guide. To find even more ideas for your program, scroll through other Making a Difference posts.

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by Maria

How to Cultivate a Successful Advisory Council

March 26, 2013 in Making a Difference

Summary:

  • A volunteer Advisory Council can lead your organization.
  • Members can support the Project Director, advocate for recruitment and community awareness, and more.

***

Welcome to our guest blogger, Patty Dreiman from the Knox Co. RSVP, Generations AAA, Indiana. Patty answered the Call for What’s Working issued by the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative in the spring of 2012, and her project was honored for its success. To learn more, download the Replication Guide.

At Knox County RSVP, a Senior Corps project for volunteers age 55+, the volunteer Advisory Council is the leadership.

And Knox County RSVP is known for the organizational capacity of the Advisory Council to implement its mission: To connect senior individuals, their skills and talents with community needs through volunteer services.

Advisory Council membership represents a cross section of the entire county, with members who represent various ages, occupations, income levels and knowledge having interests and skills to help the project achieve its goals and objectives.

We at Knox County RSVP, like many others, have found that successful volunteer programs rely on the ability to attract and retain dedicated volunteers. This includes Advisory Council members who are also station supervisors and program coordinators. Those recruited for our RSVP Advisory Council serve as representatives to all RSVP volunteers.

In this role, the Council assumes a number of key responsibilities. Council members do the following:

  • Advocate for recruitment and community awareness, for RSVP and its sponsor.
  • Provide support to the Project Director.
  • Give recommendations for local project changes.
  • Build constructive relationships with community agencies.
  • Assist the Leadership Committee with by-laws.
  • Plan and implement basic local policies.
  • Provide monthly meeting agendas and minutes.

As the director, I see that the proper guidelines are in place, and then I let the Council members do their job. The worst possible scenario for a Senior Corps program is to have a stagnant council.  Members must feel comfortable enough to offer suggestions, give ideas, and ask questions. If all they do is attend meetings and listen to a director telling them what to do, the program will not be successful.

Senior volunteer programs such as RSVP provide structured opportunities that benefit participants as well as the community. Knox County RSVP uses evaluation forms following each program or event to determine how the volunteers benefited from their volunteer experience. The summaries are included in the annual report, given to each Council member at the April meeting. The questionnaire measures overall satisfaction of volunteering on a scale of one to five, with specific variables, and satisfaction of the program or station where they donated their services.

So how do you begin to cultivate a successful Advisory Council?  Here are a few starters:

  1. Start small with a core group and establish purpose and guidelines.
  2. Allow the Leadership Committee to conduct the monthly meetings.
  3. Provide all Council members with detailed monthly and annually statistical reports.
  4. Continually thank the members with innovative goodies (Band-Aids – thanks for sticking with us, light bulb, you keep us bright and shining, banana – you’re the top banana).

Advisory Council members are more likely to remain active members when they are

  • Encouraged to bring ideas forward,
  • Listened to,
  • Given clear expectations,
  • Provided meaningful activities with a well-balanced service load, and
  • Shown genuine respect and recognition..

At Knox County RSVP, our Advisory Council members help us thrive, not only for today, but where we hope to be tomorrow.

To learn more, download the project’s Replication Guide. Or share your ideas, thoughts, or questions in the Comments, below.

To find more ideas for your program, scroll through other Making a Difference posts.

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by Maria

Apply for Funding

March 25, 2013 in Making a Difference

Extra funds can certainly help to boost the impact of your volunteer program. We are pleased to share this funding opportunity with you.

Aging Innovations and Achievement Awards

Funder:  n4a

Application Period:  March 11 – April 12, 2013

Area:  Innovative Programs

Requirements:  Must be paid member of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging.  Innovative initiatives as well as any successful programs that were launched between January 2007 and January 2012.

Description:  n4a annually recognizes the best practices of member Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and Title VI Native American aging programs. The awards highlight leading-edge and successful programs that demonstrate sound management practices and are replicable by the Aging Network. Aging Innovations Awards honor the most innovative and cutting-edge programs among all nominations received, and Aging Achievement Awards recognize programs that meet all of the award eligibility criteria as a contemporary, effective and replicable program.

Award:  Top three winners of Aging Innovations Awards:  $2,500, $1,500 and $1,000 respectively.

Apply:

 

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by Maria

So Much To Do, So Little Time

March 17, 2013 in Making a Difference

Summary:

  • A TimeBank is a place where members can post the services they have to offer and/or a request for assistance.
  • Members receive a credit for each hour they volunteer and a debt for each hour they use a service.
  • One can provide added value to your volunteers and create an instant database.

***

Welcome to our guest blogger, Lisa Viles, from the Area Agency on Aging for Northeastern Vermont. Lisa answered the Call for What’s Working issued by the Aging Network’s Volunteer Collaborative in the spring of 2012, and her project, Volunteers Win, was honored for its success.

In our community, a TimeBank has brought together neighbors with various needs, and it has allowed us to give volunteer hours where they count.

For example, have you ever felt like you just don’t have the time to do one more thing? Or maybe you know someone who is homebound and feels helpless, isolated, and that he or she has nothing to offer that others in the community would need? Someone else may be recently retired and have a skill to share but is unsure how to connect with those who might be interested in learning that skill.

I have met each of these people in my local TimeBank (and I might just be one of them).

Why a TimeBank?

So why would we all end up at the same community potluck to learn more about something called a TimeBank? There were about 30 of us at the first potluck, and we ranged in age from 30-something with young children to 80+. We came together to learn about TimeBanking, meet other members, and share a meal. This is how TimeBanks begin to build community one hour at a time.

What is a TimeBank? In a nutshell, it is a place where members can post the services they have to offer and/or a request for assistance they are seeking. Members can than “shop” from these posts to find a match to their skills or needs. When exchanges are complete, members log their time and receive a “Time Dollar” credit for each hour they volunteer and a debt for each hour they use a service. Going into debt is encouraged to keep the circle of giving moving, as volunteers “pay it forward” by sharing their time.

TimeBanking is the brainchild of founder Edgar Chan, who established TimeBanks USA in the early 1990s to share his vision. Today, there are more than 350 TimeBanks around the world. Each is unique to meet its community goals, but all share a core value: Everyone has something to contribute.

What We Had to Share

At our potluck, here’s what we found:

  • The 80-year-old retired jazz DJ found someone interested in learning from his wealth of knowledge who was very happy to drive him to concerts. He was thrilled to earn time toward pet sitting provided by another member.
  • A woman who didn’t drive anymore and felt she had nothing to offer learned there were many nearby neighbors who would welcome her help with light housekeeping and baking and others who could drive her to appointments.
  • We learned that math tutors and childcare was a need, and someone was offering horseback riding lessons.
  • Our organization even connected with a member who developed a website for our meals-to-pets program.

Benefits

You might have guessed I often feel too busy to do one more thing, but like so many other members, I found sitting down to enjoy a shared meal and the opportunity to meet new neighbors and connect with old friends was a welcome break. I also have found sharing garden chores with someone else is fun and relaxing. I am still looking for advice on how to build a rock wall. It is a little like a treasure hunt with 80 members and growing. We can easily search the database to match skills with needs.

Members can be individuals or organizations, and small businesses have even joined. It is all about sharing our time with each other. If your organization joins, it can provide added value to your volunteers and create an instant database.

If you would like to learn more about TimeBanks, view the Volunteers Win webinar slides, webinar recording, and replication guide. There is much more to share about this great platform for engaging volunteers and building communities.

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