Have Time? The Office on Aging Needs You.

Disclaimer: Views expressed in Bob’s Blog belong solely to the author and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of the CAC Office in Aging or its staff. 

Did the Covid-19 pandemic inconvenience you as much as it did me?

  • Did you spend much more time at home than you had at any time before?
  • Was it uncomfortable for you to wear face masks?
  • Were you unable to go to the businesses or restaurants you wanted to?
  • Was your prior lifestyle disrupted and did you have to find new ways to occupy your time?

You may not have realized it.

The Pandemic Also Disrupted Businesses and Non-Profit Organizations

One of these was the Knoxville Knox County Community Action Committee (CAC) and its Office on Aging. The Office on Aging has many different programs for older people.

During the pandemic, the Office on Aging found new ways to safely and effectively offer its programs and services. Programs which required one-on-one interaction with people were now being offered virtually, by phone, or curbside. Many of the events normally held indoors became drive-through events. Seniors continued to receive the valuable services they needed without the fear of contracting Covid-19.

When vaccines became available and Covid-19 case numbers went down in Knox County, the Office on Aging was able to carefully resume in-person programming.

As This Happened, a New Unexpected Problem Arose

You may not know this. The staff at the Office on Aging is fairly small. They rely on many volunteers to run the programs they offer.

During the pandemic, many people decided it was their time to retire. This created the need to recruit more volunteers to maintain the services and programs.

The Office on Aging Needs Volunteers.

Here are Three Programs that Need YOU!

The Foster Grandparent, the Senior Companion, and the Retired and Senior Volunteer programs are in need of volunteers.

A Snapshot of These 3 Programs

The Foster Grandparent Program

Volunteers work with children in schools and after school programs. They provide academic, social and emotional support for them. This can be through mentoring or tutoring them.

The work each volunteer does helps set the children up for success not only in school but also later in life.

What does it take to be a foster grandparent?

  • Good physical and mental health
  • Ability to pass a Background check
  • Time Commitment -15 and 40 hours a week

Some foster grandparents are asked to work with children with special needs.

Volunteers receive:

  • A small hourly stipend (does not affect benefits like Social Security)
  • Reimbursement for miles driven or public transportation
  • An orientation session and ongoing training for which they are paid
  • Liability Insurance while they are volunteering
  • Invitations to Recognition events
  • Opportunity to meet and build friendships with the other people where they are volunteering and with other volunteers

There are also other benefits which can’t be measured:

  • Many report their physical and mental health improves while working with the children.
  • They bond with some of the children. This bond frequently lasts long after their work with them ends.
  • They get a deep sense of satisfaction from what they do. That, in turn, adds years to their lives.

Don’t let the name, Foster Grandparent, confuse you. A foster grandparent does not adopt a child.  They’re just called that because many become like another a grandparent for the children in addition to their natural ones.

Senior Companion Program

This program is designed to help older people continue to live in their homes for as long as possible.

A volunteer in this program enables this by providing companionship and support to the person to whom they’re assigned. The person they’re helping may have a loss of mobility or be at an advanced age and may be isolated and lonely. The volunteer helps to alleviate their isolation and loneliness.

Some volunteers work with people who have chronic medical conditions or memory loss, are recovering from surgery, or are being treated for cancer or receiving dialysis.

They might help with tasks like shopping and preparing light meals. At times a volunteer may provide respite for the person’s primary caregiver (a husband, wife, daughter, or son) so they can enjoy some rest and relaxation or take care of personal business.

What does it take to be a Senior Companion?

  • Good physical and mental health
  • Pass a Background check
  • Have 15 to 40 hours a week to serve the person needing help

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

At any given time, there are many other needs right here in our community. Many other non-profit organizations try to meet these needs.  Each of these organizations doesn’t have the finances to hire all of the people needed to serve the people they help. They rely on volunteers to do this.

One source of volunteers for them is the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). It provides volunteers to help organizations in the community do the work they do.

People 55 and older can contact the staff at RSVP and let them know of their desire to volunteer and how many hours a week or month they have available. The staff at RSVP will help them figure out the type of volunteer work they would enjoy doing and place them with a non-profit or an agency that has a need for their services.

A volunteer in the RSVP program

  • Can work the hours they want.
  • Make their own schedule.
  • Will meet other people with the same interests they have.
  • Are provided with excess auto and personal liability insurance. This provides coverage over and above that which they already have while they are doing their volunteer work.
  • Are invited to attend annual RSVP recognition events.
  • Can attend special community and special events for free or at a reduced fee.

The Office on Aging has worked with the Blount County Community Action Committee’s Office on Aging to establish its own RSVP. If someone wants to volunteer or live in Blount County and wants more information on their program, they can call 865-317-4747 or send an email to rsvp@blountcac.org.

Have Time Available?

Looking For Things to Do?

Interested in Serving in the Community?

Want to Help People in Need?

Please look closely at the Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion or RSVP programs.

If you have an interest in helping in one of these programs, please call the Office on Aging today. The number is (865) 524-2786.

Talk to the people who run the program you’re interested in. Find out more about it. The people you talk to will answer any questions you have. They will also let you know your next step in getting involved.

I almost overlooked this.

There is One Other Benefit

According to an AmeriCorps Seniors Health Report, 84% of volunteers say they have noticed a significant improvement in their own health and wellbeing within the first twelve months of when they started to volunteer.

Don’t hesitate. That number again is (865) 524-2786. Please call today


If you have any comments on what you have read in this post, please email them to me. Also – if you have any ideas about subjects you would like to see discussed in future posts, please send me an email and let me know. My email address is bob.ooablog@gmail.com.