AARP Eye Center
You love your community and you want to give back. You’ve got valuable skills and tons of experience. So what is your next step? Where do you begin looking for a volunteer opportunity that will make a good fit for what you would like to do and your lifestyle?
Volunteering is a noble way of providing services to your friends and neighbors. But what exactly do you want to spend your personal time doing for others?
One way you can find that perfect fit is by checking out what volunteer opportunities exist at AARP.
AARP began as a small group of advocacy volunteers sitting around Ethel Percy Andrus’ kitchen table trying to figure out how to acquire health insurance coverage for fellow retired teachers.
Today, AARP is the largest advocacy organization for people age 50+ and the volunteer opportunities are endless.
Every day across the nation thousands of AARP volunteers donate their time, skills and expertise in service to the community in general, or in special areas. Some volunteers work with AARP on an ongoing basis and some work only during special events or projects. AARP calls those who only want to volunteer occasionally - episodic volunteers.
Beginning as an advocacy organization, it is no surprise that our advocacy activities are strong throughout the nation. Every state office has an advocacy component with its finger on the pulse of issues of importance to seniors on both a state and national level. Among some of the legislative issues that AARP VI volunteers have worked on include: removing smoking from all public buildings, Caregiving, the local Pension Offset provision, (local issues) Medicare and Social Security cuts (federal issues). Our advocacy volunteers help educate the public policy makers and the general public on the issues and provide testimony that helps officials understand the issue from a personal perspective.
As AARP grew over the years, we began to look at areas, other than health insurance, that might help improve the quality of life for individuals 50+. Chief among these areas were topics such as ‘livable communities’ which included how well your community provided for things like transportation, recreational spaces, and housing. Volunteer opportunities sprang up in each of these areas and today these areas are a mainstay for AARP volunteers.
You might ask, how does someone volunteer for projects that focus on transportation. For instance, AARP VI recently did a transportation survey where volunteers hit the roads to examine whether street lights and walk signs were properly timed to allow pedestrians, especially those with mobility challenges, could cross the street safely.
AARP volunteers also spent a day riding the public buses to learn if they were comfortable, timely and provided residents with transportation alternatives. The data AARP volunteers gathered that day helped to demonstrate to our Public Works Department that the public transportation system was dependable and that more attention should be paid toward supporting the program. As a result, it wasn’t long before new or vastly improved bus shelters could be seen throughout all three islands.
So, yes, our volunteer service makes a difference in our community!
During the period in which the price of oil was through the roof, AARP volunteers helped residents bring down the cost of their electricity by conducting energy audits to help seniors learn new ways to reduce their electric consumption.
Going back to its roots, AARP is always involved in health-related projects. In the Virgin Islands health fairs are conducted almost quarterly. And, every fall, AARP volunteers are called upon to assist the VI Department of Health during their annual flu shot drive.
In years past, AARP VI offered assistance to low-income seniors by providing a volunteer specialist help them prepare their income taxes. This program is known nationally as the Tax Aid Program. This program is on hold in the VI, since the program now focuses on electronic submissions of tax paperwork. The VI Bureau of Internal Revenue is not presently set up to accept electronic filing. However, we are still looking for qualified volunteers to help seniors prepare their returns.
Another area where AARP utilizes the expertise of its volunteers has been on our monthly radio show which is presented in English and Spanish. Volunteers work with AARP staff to present topics of interest in both languages, so if you are a Spanish speaker, we would love to give you an opportunity to talk to your fellow Hispanics in your native language.
Surprisingly, one of our newest volunteer programs involves high school students! Students now have the opportunity to earn their community service credits toward graduation, by volunteering to provide training to help seniors better utilize the features of their smart phones, tablets and computers. The program is called Mentor Up and has just completed its pilot program on St. Croix. Under Mentor Up, high school students work, one-on-one, with a senior.
So, no matter where your interests lay, AARP VI has a volunteer opportunity for you!
AARP is currently seeking volunteers who would like to work with us in Advocacy, Communications, Driver Safety, Wellness Programs, Tax Aid, Mentor Up, and Bereavement Programs. If you are interested in joining the premier organization advocating for persons 50+ please come visit one of the VI AARP Offices in the Virgin Islands to learn more.
Episodic volunteer opportunities include working at the annual Agricultural and Food Fair, health fairs, Day of Service projects, and other specialty projects.
On St. Croix – The State AARP VI Office is located in the Sunny Isle Shopping Center Annex - 4093 Diamond Ruby, Suite 6, Christiansted, VI 00802. The phone number is 340-713-2002.
On St. Thomas – the AARP Information Center is located in the Frostco Building at 3730 Estate Altona, Suite 105, St. Thomas, VI 00802. The phone number is 340-776-8236.