As we mark the anniversary of the September 11th attacks, organizations like AARP are encouraging people to honor the day by volunteering in their communities.
AARP Arkansas State Director Maria Reynolds-Diaz provided information on how to get involved with volunteering.
Tell us about what AARP is doing to honor September 11?
For 12 years, AARP staff and volunteers around the country have responded to the tragic events of that day by participating in the September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance. Each year, thousands of people across the country volunteer at elementary schools, senior centers and food banks. We encourage everyone to think about ways they can volunteer to help make their communities better. To us, it's the best way to commemorate the day.
How can people participate in the National Day of Service?
The big misconception about volunteering is that you have to commit a lot of time. If you've got five minutes, five hours or five months you can find some way to help in your community. This day is our way to draw attention to volunteering and its importance. AARP also has a web site called Create the Good designed to help people not only find volunteer opportunities but organizations that need volunteers can upload information to it.
At AARP you also encourage people to volunteer no matter their age - there's something for everyone.
We conducted a nation-wide survey in January and found that of those surveyed 53% of those over 50 had volunteered the previous year. And while volunteering does wonders for the group or organization getting the help it has such a positive effect on those who volunteer. It can help keep you physically active, improves brain health and mental acuity and gives you a chance to connect with others....all of which are great things to address as we age.
Do you have suggestions for volunteering.
You could stop by your favorite charity and stuff envelopes for an afternoon or visit an assisted living facility to see if they need someone to read to the site-impaired. At AARP we are passionate about fighting hunger since Arkansas is the fifth highest state in the country for food insecurity for those over 60. So we would LOVE to see people volunteering at food pantries and food banks or simply donating food.
Of course, at AARP we are always looking for volunteers to help with programs like Driver Safety or represent us at health fairs and other events. To volunteer with AARP you can email the organization at ARvolunteer@aarp.org.