Attending the White House Event on Volunteerism and Community Service

| July 18, 2011
Ken Charvoz and panelists

Dr. Tan, Heisung Lee, and Ken Charvoz

Recently I was honored  to represent the OASIS Institute as a panelist at the White House Event on Volunteerism and Community Service. The event was sponsored by the Administration on Aging and the Corporation for National & Community Service. We were welcomed by Karen Richardson, Associate Director, White House Office of Public Engagement. Opening speakers included Valerie Jarrett, White House Senior Advisor,  Melody Barnes, Director of Domestic Policy Council, and Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee, all of whom spoke about the necessity for engaging our seniors in community service opportunities and the capacity that passionate volunteers have to create solutions for local issues.

America has a rich history of volunteerism. Our panel moderator Dr. Erwin Tan, Director of Senior Corps, referred to a young America as recorded by Alexis de Tocqueville, who wrote about the unique willingness of Americans to sacrifice personally for the good of the public welfare. As the boomer generation ages, we see the challenges of dealing with aging issues, but also recognize the tremendous potential of channeling that much energy and knowledge into productive engagement, and the beneficial impact that engagement through community service can have on successful aging. Arizona, as one of the states with the fastest growing senior populations, faces tremendous challenges. My post An Aging Arizona looks at some of the unique challenges to our state.

Dr. Tan asked each of us to talk about how what we do helps the community, how what we do benefits us personally, and how our organizations facilitate volunteerism. All of my fellow panelists had great stories of how they recognized specific and unique issues within their communities and undertook initiatives to meet those needs. Each was obviously emotionally invested, not because of the programs per se, but because of their personal connection to the people they serve. These are truly passionate advocates for needs within their communities.

I was privileged to share about my involvement with OASIS, both in Tucson and nationally. OASIS’ programs motivate mature adults to view life after 50 as a exciting time for discovery, personal growth, and active social and community engagement. OASIS has many volunteer and community service opportunities, including two outstanding programs that pair OASIS members with kids – the Intergenerational Tutoring Program teams a member with a child for tutoring in reading skills, and the Catch Healthy Habits Program engages OASIS members in teaching healthy living lifestyles, including diet and exercise, to kids. Volunteers in these programs benefit as much as the children they mentor. OASIS has many other volunteer opportunities as well, including teaching community classes or becoming a Connections Technology trainer.

Jon Carson, Director, White House Office of Public Engagement, provided closing remarks.  To learn more about the efforts of the administration to promote civic engagement visit http://www.whitehouse.gov/engage.

I want to recognize my fellow panelists Heisung Lee, Pearl Hunt, Catherine Owens, Eunice Joyner, and Barbara Burton for their exceptional community service. They are busy advocating and feeding the elderly, protecting and mentoring the young and the disabled. Go for it! I’d also like to thank the OASIS Institute, who invited me to participate. Finally, thank you Sherri Clark, with the Administration on Aging, for making me feel so welcome.

 

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Category: News & Advocacy

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