• $150,000 Award to Support Senior Volunteerism

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    January 26, 2021
    United Way Emerald Coast (UWEC) announced today that it received an AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP grant of $150,000 from the AmeriCorps federal agency to support 150 RSVP volunteers serving in Okaloosa and Walton Counties. 

    Established in 1971, the AmeriCorps Seniors Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) engages Americans age 55 and older in service, responding to our nation’s most pressing challenges. RSVP volunteers stay healthy and active through service, improving their own lives as they improve the lives of others.  A growing body of research affirms the numerous mental and physical health benefits of volunteerism, including lower mortality rates, decreased rates of depression, and increased strength and energy.  

    “We are thrilled to have been awarded grants to launch this program in both Okaloosa and Walton counties,” said UWEC Board Chair Caralee Gibson. “RSVP will enable us to purposefully reach out to our invaluable seniors, matching them with opportunities for passionate service that improves their quality of life and enriches our community.”

    UWEC was a first-time applicant to RSVP. With this new funding, United Way Emerald Coast will leverage the skills and experience of seniors in Okaloosa and Walton counties to not only strengthen the work of our agency programming, but to also support other community organizations through the implementation of substations, collaborations, and partnerships.  With over 64 years of serving the Okaloosa and Walton county communities, UWEC has a long history of working with local granting organizations, both non-profit and governmental, with a proven track record of managing these grants to the agencies' standards. UWEC is well poised to implement the RSVP program and the corresponding national performance measure outcomes.

    “We believe that with the power of the United Way brand, we can positively impact more people in our community by leveraging the passion, talents, and time of Okaloosa and Walton County seniors,” said UWEC President and CEO Kelly Jasen. “With more than 25 partner non-profit agencies, 100+ partner workplaces, and a strong community presence we can dramatically improve the quality of life experienced by senior citizens engaged in purposeful service to our community.”

    UWEC will recruit, train, and direct volunteer service for an estimated 150 unduplicated volunteers through RSVP. Some of their activities may include delivering meals to homebound seniors; preparing taxes for low to moderate income households; reading with local children to increase school readiness; and virtual mentoring to improve students' attitudes and school performance.

    Volunteer recruitment will begin in the spring. If a local non-profit is interested in serving as a volunteer station (site where volunteers will be placed), they may contact UWEC President & CEO Kelly Jasen at 850-243-0315 or kelly@united-way.org
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