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Dyann Brown

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Senior Corps Week: Paying it Forward Baby Boomer Style (SUBMIT YOUR PHOTOS)

Posted: 05/07/2012 9:13 am

At the age of 59 I found myself in early retirement after a long career in non-profit management. Like so many others new to retirement, I had time on my hands and a desire to give back. So I started a consulting business out of my home, which allowed me to use my skills and gain some income.

I had just completed a successful phone call with a client, and decided to take a break by watching the tail end of Oprah. The stellar cast of guests -- the First Lady, military spouses, and journalists Bob Woodward and Tom Brokaw -- shared compelling stories about the sacrifices of military families and suggested that everyone can honor and support our veterans by volunteering in our communities. I especially recall military spouses and the First Lady offering simple yet concrete ways in which volunteering can make a significant impact in the lives of military families. This really struck a chord with me.

In the past my volunteering was really by happenstance -- an organization needed help with a clothing drive, making calls for a college telethon, or stuffing envelopes for a mailing. If I were available, I'd try to lend a hand. But this time I wanted to offer more. With my faith and the talents and expertise acquired over 20 years in non-profit management and fundraising development, I knew I had a lot to offer. However, I was so busy creating my own business that I was apprehensive about how much time I could give. I kept an open mind as I copied the website address, www.Serve.gov, just in case.

Within 24 hours of completing a short online survey of interest and skills, I received a phone call from a local Senior Corps volunteer organization called Lifespan/RSVP which matches volunteers with local opportunities. With such a quick turnaround, I jokingly asked whether they were waiting for my application. Within the week I received training and orientation and was introduced to not one, but two organizations that matched my interests.

Today I'm loving my new role as an RSVP volunteer, providing planning and development assistance to Partners in Restorative Initiatives (PIRI), a community-based organization that works with schools, courts and communities to resolve conflict and instill restorative practices through education, advocacy, training and facilitation. I've enjoyed the experience of volunteering so much that in addition, I offer academic support to local elementary students at the Notre Dame Learning Center. Am I busy? Busier is more like it! But what a feeling of gratitude to pay it forward.

I am proud to be a Baby Boomer and part of a generation whose children and grandchildren see us as role models who give back in a sincerity of gratitude. What we Boomers offer as volunteers to an agency, organization or non-profit is invaluable. And what we receive as volunteers is invaluable as well -- you can't put a price on a mother's "thank you" for your time and dedication when she sees her 11-year-old son beaming with pride as his confidence in reading grows.

I am learning that to make a big difference, you can start with a simple act. No matter what your time or interest, everyone can serve. Do something for yourself and your community and call your local volunteer agency. Now!

Check out the slideshow of baby boomer volunteers!

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  • Foster grandparent reads with student

  • Foster grandparent volunteer helps student with reading skills

  • Foster grandparent volunteer helps young student with reading skills

  • Foster Grandparent volunteer reads to young student

  • Foster grandparent volunteer reads with young boy

  • RSVP volunteer helps build home with Habitat for Humanity

  • RSVP volunteer rebuilds home

  • Senior companion volunteer assists client

  • Senior companion volunteer brings client back home from appointment

  • Senior Corps volunteer helps student with homework

  • Senior corps volunteer mentors a student

  • Senior volunteer assists client on way to doctor

  • Volunteer executive counselors share their business expertise

  • Volunteer prepares lunch at Havertown Senior Center

  • Volunteer shares her legal expertise

  • Volunteers gather a water sample

  • Volunteers in Michigan support local police

  • Volunteers in Tuscaloosa console resident with damaged house

  • Volunteers reinforce a front porch

  • Volunteers support military personal at local airport

  • New Hampshire Senior Companion and Visitee

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/NicoleFinitsis"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/11013775/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/NicoleFinitsis">NicoleFinitsis</a>:<br />There are 81 New Hampshire Senior Companions who serve over 400 frail elders and adults with disabilities in 7 of the 10 counties in NH. The longest serving companion is serving their 17th year this year. The average year of service is 6 for the NH Senior Companion Program.

  • Senior Companion, Fannie.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/500826290/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston">Meg Weston</a>:<br />Senior Companion, Fannie helps one of her clients who is legally blind pick out matching clothes for the week.

  • Senior Companion, Gloria.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/500826290/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston">Meg Weston</a>:<br />Senior Companion, Gloria goes to her client's home to play Skip-Bo everyday. The two have become more like sisters than friends.

  • Senior Companion, George.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/500826290/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston">Meg Weston</a>:<br />Senior Companion, George sits with his client who has Parkinson's. This client's wife is a 24/7 caregiver, and having a senior companion allows her to get out with a peace of mind.

  • Senior Companion, Terry.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/500826290/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston">Meg Weston</a>:<br />Senior Companion, Terry (who is a veteran himself) takes two veteran clients to a local Veteran's breakfast every other Wednesday morning.

  • Senior Companion, Bev.

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/500826290/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Meg_Weston">Meg Weston</a>:<br />Senior Companion, Bev takes her client out for lunch every Tuesday. They try and go to a different place each week. So far they've gone to 15 different places to eat!

  • Polly Turns 109!

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/maggiesnow"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/maggiesnow">maggiesnow</a>:<br />Recently, the oldest client in the Senior Companion Program at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Joliet, Illinois turned 109 years-old! Here, Polly is shown celebrating her landmark birthday with her beloved senior companion, Midge.

  • Thank You RSVP Volunteers from Central Illinois

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rsvpssoci"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100003716998781/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rsvpssoci">rsvpssoci</a>:<br />Thank you to the 450+ RSVP volunteers in Sangamon, Menard and Logan Counties in Illinois for serving almost 90,000 hours in 2011.

  • 2012 VITA Tax Volunteers - Springfield, Illinois

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rsvpssoci"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100003716998781/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/rsvpssoci">rsvpssoci</a>:<br />Thank you to our VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) volunteers for a successful 2011 tax season. Over 500 clients served and over $300,000 in federal returns back to the local community.

  • RSVP Volunteers Promote Healthy Site

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kim_Herbertz"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://graph.facebook.com/100001239048166/picture?type=square" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/Kim_Herbertz">Kim Herbertz</a>:<br />In Daviess and Martin Counties in Indiana, trained and certified RSVP Volunteers screen the vision of children and adults from at risk populations. When indicated, they refer those with a potential vision issue to an eye care professional.

  • Recognition for Tutors and Mentors

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ConnieMorse"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ConnieMorse">ConnieMorse</a>:<br />Senior Corps Week Recognition Brunch for Tutors and Mentors in Burlington, NC

  • RSVP Tutor and student

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ConnieMorse"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/ConnieMorse">ConnieMorse</a>:<br />RSVP Tutor helps her student write a story.

  • Handyman Brigade, Harrison County RSVP

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/CapeCodAT"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://s.huffpost.com/images/profile/user_placeholder.gif" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/CapeCodAT">CapeCodAT</a>:<br />Amos Fields, retired Navy weather man and retired Air Force hurricane hunter Al Collins help seniors repair and maintain their homes as part of the Handyman Brigade, a program of the Harrison County RSVP.

  • Foster Grandma Jennel Simmons

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/fgpcfl"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3228431.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/fgpcfl">fgpcfl</a>:<br />Foster Grandma Jennel Simmons celebrates 31 years as a Foster Grandparent on Monday during Senior Corps week at the annual FGP of Central Florida Luncheon

  • Mayor Proclaming FGP Day

    <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/fgpcfl"><img style="float:left;padding-right:6px !important;" src="http://images.huffingtonpost.com/google_profile_img/3228431.png" /></a><a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/social/fgpcfl">fgpcfl</a>:<br />Deputy Mayor Gary Brender of the City of Lake Mary proclaiming Monday, May 7 as Foster Grandparent Day in Central Florida

 
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