AARP Eye Center
Of the many things that challenged us during the COVID pandemic, one has been continuing to do things we enjoy. This is certainly true of being a volunteer for AARP. While rewarding and enjoyable, adjustments were necessary. We all had to get creative in how we performed our activities.
As Daphney Young, Senior Program Specialist, AARP Louisiana puts it, “Although the pandemic robbed us of our ‘normal’ lives, it granted us the gift of inclusivity. Events are now accessible to many people that may have been excluded otherwise.”
Emma Shepherd, a volunteer for over 15 years from Shreveport, describes her experience this way: “I love volunteering for AARP because it gives me a sense of purpose, and AARP made it easy to function virtually. There were very few issues. For example, as part of the Speakers Bureau, I loved the virtual presentation in how it reached more people across the state than would have been able to come in person. The only downside was the fact that I am a people person, and we were not in person.”
As a volunteer for AARP, I write for newsletters and social media. The pandemic gave me an opportunity to interview and interact with volunteers around the state – all from the comfort of my home. I am also part of the Speakers Bureau, which I have done on my home laptop, rather than driving to program locations as we did prior to the pandemic.
The idea of virtual volunteering has become more popular with the COVID-19 pandemic and, moreover, has made volunteering easier. As Daphney points out, “All you need is a computer and an Internet connection and you, too, can join the global army of virtual volunteers making a difference with AARP from the comfort and safety of your home.”
Another advantage of virtual volunteering for AARP is flexibility. I can complete projects as my schedule permits. We all know we are free to say yes to AARP activities or decline when other commitments take priority.
Here are virtual opportunities for you to consider:
Advocacy Advocate on behalf of people age 50+ to elected leaders through virtual meetings, calls and email
Fraud Watch Network Join volunteers who offer peer counseling, support and referral services
Hubdialer This is a platform allowing volunteers to communicate directly with AARP members by phone on selected issues
Livable Communities This is how you can support neighborhoods, towns, cities and rural areas in providing safe, walkable streets, and age-friendly housing and transportation
Speakers Bureau Present 30- or 60-minute programs on such topics as brain health, caregiving, fraud prevention and emergency preparedness
Tax-Aide Assist individuals prepare and file their tax returns
Tele-Town Halls Help screen callers as they listen to live town halls on specific topics
These programs allow you to share expertise you already possess or try something new. Regardless of what experience you bring to a project, AARP provides training to ensure you are comfortable in your role. And do not worry if you are not a wizard at technology, such as web-based platforms, because there are always people ready to help. As Emma Shepherd puts it, “I encourage everyone to choose a program that speaks to their character and join. You too will get a sense of satisfaction helping others.”
For information about becoming a virtual volunteer, contact Daphney Young, firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 486-2162.