Wednesday, May 16, 2012
In honor of National Corps Week Alexian Senior Neighbors is honoring volunteers like 89-year-old Gifford Walker, who volunteers most of his week year-round volunteering at Erlanger.
“In the last 12 months Gifford has put in 1,800 volunteer hours,” said Alexian Brothers Senior Neighbors Retired and Senior Volunteer Program Director Jayme Upton, who recruits volunteers for 40 Chattanooga area nonprofit agencies. “We have more than 400 volunteers that put in almost 68,800 hours in the last 12 months. Only 360 of the 400 record their hours.”
Upton said Walker, who volunteers six days a week as part of the program, is one of the RSVP Senior Corps “superstars” because of his loyalty to serving daily at Erlanger. In his years of service to Erlanger, Upton estimates that Walker has spent 15,000 to 17,000 hours in service to his community. He began volunteering full-time after his wife passed away in October 2003.
Walker said staying active through volunteering keeps him young at heart. He stays true to his scheduled weekly activities. On Monday and Tuesday mornings he goes around to visit patients at the hospital. In the afternoons he serves in admitting and highlights what patients need to sign. On Wednesdays he helps with paperwork in the surgical waiting room. On Thursdays he travels to Harrison Elementary School to sharpen pencils, make copies and laminate papers, and help second-graders read.
On Thursday nights he takes time for himself to go dancing in downtown Ringgold. On Fridays he helps with human resources paperwork and special events at Erlanger. On Friday nights he takes time to go dancing at the Alexian Senior Neighbors Soddy-Daisy Senior Center.
So he doesn’t get stir crazy on weekends, Walker works at information booths at Erlanger. He does not volunteer on Sundays, so he can attend church, wash his clothes and spend time with family.
“National Community Service RSVP is part of Senior Corps,” said Upton. “We enlist seniors to volunteer in the community to meet needs in the community. We want to recognize and thank senior volunteers for their service.”
Upton said the Senior Corps volunteer force saves the nonprofits for which they volunteer a total $1,433,157 annually. More than 340,000 senior volunteers serve throughout the United States making a difference for nonprofits.
“We recognize not just the durability and effectiveness of Senior Corps’ legacy, but also the unique ability that Americans 55 and over possess to use their wisdom, professional skills and experience as they cultivate and nurture the kind of change that makes a lasting generational impact,” said Upton. “Mentoring and tutoring children, working in thrift stores, responding to natural disasters, serving in hospitals and helping seniors stay independent [are ways senior volunteers make a difference daily].”