Wisdom, experience, a strong work ethic and a desire to give back to their communities—those are the attributes Cari Hansen sees in the more than 500 senior citizen volunteers who participate in dozens of programs in the Missoula area, helping others for the joy of doing it.
Hansen supervises the Missoula Senior Service Corps (SSC), where she says the emphasis truly is on service to others. Two of the programs, Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions, offer a slight stipend to seniors who participate, but RSVP volunteers are not paid. Despite that, many volunteers donate a 20- to 40-hour work week, Hansen says.
Hospitals, schools, rest homes, and various government agencies all benefit from the experience and expertise of senior volunteers, Hansen says. “They are incredible. They have a desire to give back to their communities. They find something that catches them in the heart and they are drawn to that cause.”
Hansen, who works out the Missoula Aging Services office at 227 West Front Street, says the program participants often find that they receive far more than they give. Ages of volunteers range from just-retired 55-year-olds to folks like 83-year-old Ed Mosier, a retired electrical engineer, who is a mentor in the gifted and talented program at a local school. The program even has active volunteers in their 90s.
“Some people come in with an idea of what they would like to do and we can facilitate that,” Hansen says. “Some want us to help match their interests with someone’s need.”
The SSC is planning a “Snapshot in Volunteering” for Saturday, June 3. Seniors may volunteer to work at nine different sites around Missoula, participating in everything from conducting crime analysis surveys to painting a mural to planting flowers.
From noon to 1:30 p.m., the public is invited to join those seniors in Caras Park for a celebration of the Senior Day of Service. In addition, there will be live music, a senior expo, highlighting senior volunteer possibilities and recognition of the volunteers. Lunch will be available to the public from a number of local restaurants.
For more information about the Senior Day of Service or the Missoula Senior Service Corps, call Hansen at 728-7682.