Opportunities Are Available for ACTION To Enhance Older American Voluntarism

HRD-80-58: Published: Mar 7, 1980. Publicly Released: Mar 7, 1980.

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Since its creation in 1971, ACTION has expanded elderly participation in its programs from about 4,000 volunteers to almost 270,000. Pursuant to a congressional request, a review was performed of ACTION's administration of its Older American Volunteer Program projects. The review took place at ACTION headquarters; ACTION regional offices in California, New York, and Texas; and five ACTION State offices in those States. Researchers also visited nine action projects: a Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, and Retired Senior Volunteer project in each of the three States. To assess experiences, satisfaction, and coordination, researchers interviewed 231 current volunteers, 67 persons on waiting lists to become volunteers, and representatives of 65 organizations that sponsor two or more ACTION projects.

Older American Volunteer Program projects are sponsored by public and nonprofit organizations, including State and local governments and private community agencies. Sponsors are responsible for developing, implementing, and managing the projects. The volunteers expressed satisfaction with the duties they performed and the number of hours they worked and expressed the belief that their activities helped the people they served. Increased funding for ACTION programs in fiscal years 1980 and 1981 was intended for increased stipends, travel reimbursement, insurance for volunteers, project administration and training, 30 new projects with a projected strength of over 8,000 volunteers, and the expansion of 170 projects with a projected volunteer increase of 17,000. The stipend increase was the first since the program began and raised payments to all low-income volunteers in the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs by 25 percent, from $1.60 to $2.00 per hour.

Recommendation for Executive Action

  1. Status: Closed

    Comments: Please call 202/512-6100 for additional information.

    Recommendation: Several opportunities for ACTION to further stimulate older American voluntarism were noted. Specifically, ACTION should: (1) ensure that its grantees develop and implement effective procedures and practices for referring elderly applicants who cannot be placed in ACTION programs to other volunteer opportunities in the community; (2) establish formal procedures to encourage the use of joint sponsorship arrangements whereby multiple projects are administered by a single sponsor in order to match community needs and volunteer interests more effectively; and (3) define the degree to which it should emphasize the expansion of opportunities for the elderly in public and private sector volunteer programs.

    Agency Affected:

 

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