By Diana S. Glover
The Meridian Star
A lot is going on with The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Meridian/Lauderdale County.
In addition to an increase in classes for seniors in the coming months, we are assisting other community programs and preparing for May's observance of Older Americans Month.
The following classes are offered at the RSVP office located at 721 Front St. Ext.:
• April 25, 10 a.m. – AARP Home Safety Class to educate us on the changes we can make in our homes to accommodate the changing needs of our senior population. Open to persons of all ages.
• April 26, 10 a.m. – Bob Glazar will give us tips on how to be more aware of our surroundings, and things we can do to protect ourselves in all situations.
• May 2, from noon-4:30 p.m. – AARP Safe Drivers Class to reduce the cost of auto insurance for seniors over 50. The cost of this class is $14, ($12 for AARP members). Please call our office to make a reservation as this class fills up fast.
• May 9, 1 p.m. – Information & Quality Healthcare will have a class to help improve diabetes care and reduce amputation rates for diabetes patients. This intervention class will have an impact on the overall health and encourage lifestyle changes that promote a healthier life style.
• May 10 – RSVP will host a tea party for ladies interested in volunteering in their community. Our volunteers will serve tea and cookies. Prizes will be awarded for hats worn to this old fashioned tea party.
Robert (Bob) Glazar is our RSVP Volunteer of the Month for April.
Bob has been involved with our RSVP program for 40 years in many different capacities. He is the former director of the Foster Grandparent’s Program of Meridian; past president of the Lauderdale County Council on Aging; former member of the Human Relations Commission for the city of Meridian; former founder, member and officer of the Interagency Council of Lauderdale County; member of the Mental Health Association in Lauderdale County; past president of the Friends of East Mississippi State Hospital; and former co-chair of the Volunteer Service Commission Board.
Bob has attended Church of the Mediator since 1978 and has served in several capacities. He will teach the AARP Driver’s Safety classes and personal safety classes at our office.
I would like to recognize Ms. Grace Clarke, who has been an RSVP volunteer for our program for 35 years and the Foster Grandparents Program for 28 years. She will turn 101 years young this summer.
Ms. Grace continues to turn in hours to our office through our Operation Helping Hands Program. She is active in her church and attends regularly.
What a great example of giving to others and living longer. Her life has been devoted to church, family, and children.
Lend a hand
The American Cancer Society needs our help.
More than 15,800 residents in Mississippi are expected to be diagnosed with cancer this year. For many of them, getting to treatment may be the toughest part of their fight. Right now, the American Cancer Society's Road to Recovery program especially needs volunteer drivers in Lauderdale County for cancer patients who need transportation to treatment.
Training for prospective drivers will be held April 17 at 9 a.m. at Anderson Regional Cancer Center, 1704 23rd Ave.
If you would like to learn more about how to help The American Red Cross in the event of a disaster, please go to the following website and register: redcross.org/mississippi
Click on the "Volunteer" tab on the left side of the screen. Scroll down and click on "Volunteer Application." You will be taken to another screen (or window depending on the browser) where you can begin the registration process. The chapter you should choose is "East Central Mississippi."
Note: An email address is required for new applications as further instruction for activating your profile will be sent electronically. Once you click "submit," you should then receive an email with a link and other information on completing the intake process. This process includes reading and agreeing to current American Red Cross policies and procedures, as well as initiating a background check.
Applicants must check the box on the background check screen as well as the link that takes them to http://mybackgroundcheck.com; otherwise, the system will not enter the background check information.
You may also visit there and add/update information, and view current volunteer opportunities available in the chapter. Once the background check results are received, applicants will be trained in the areas of interest. We will host a training event at our RSVP office if enough people are interested.
Older Americans Month
The annual observance May is Older Americans Month is a perfect opportunity to show our appreciation for older adults in our community.
Since 1963, communities across the nation have joined in the annual commemoration of Older Americans Month, a proud tradition that shows our nation's commitment to celebrating the contributions and achievements of older Americans.
As large numbers of baby boomers reach retirement age, many communities have increased their efforts to provide meaningful opportunities for older adults – many of whom remain physically and socially active through their 80s and beyond. Current trends show that people over age 60 account for an ever-growing percentage of participants in community service positions, faith-based organizations, online social networking as well as arts and recreational groups.
Lifelong participation in social, creative, and physical activities has proven health benefits, including retaining mobility, muscle mass, and cognitive abilities. But older adults are not the only ones who benefit from their engagement in community life. Studies show their interactions with family, friends, and neighbors across generations enrich the lives of everyone involved. Young people who have significant relationships with a grandparent or elder report that these relationships helped shape their values, goals, and life choices and gave them a sense of identity and roots.
• Diana S. Glover is director of RSVP of Meridian/Lauderdale County.