Center on Aging Receives Two Program Continuation Grants

The University of Maine Center on Aging recently received two grants from the United Way of Eastern Maine to continue two popular programs, the Center’s RSVP organization of community volunteers over the age of 55, and the RSVP Bone Builders exercise education program.

The Center on Aging RSVP (Retired Senior and Volunteer Program) is a part of the national Senior Corps, an organization of volunteers age 55 and older who respond to community needs by serving non-profit organizations, schools and government agencies. It has 400 active members, whose average age is 75, working with more than 80 partnering agencies in Hancock, Penobscot, Piscataquis and Washington counties.

RSVP provides elders with opportunities for physical, mental and social stimulation, which enhances their quality of life and independent living. It is sponsored with support from the Corporation for National and Community Service, Maine’s Office of Elder Services, and the United Way of Eastern Maine, which recently allocated $14,516 to help continue RSVP programs.

Bone Builders is an exercise and educational program, whose volunteers have been trained to lead exercise classes to strengthen bone density in hopes of preventing or lessening the effects of osteoporosis. Of more than 400 volunteers, 20 are Bone Builders leaders, with most having begun the program as class participants.

The United Way’s allocation of $6,214 for fiscal 2012 will make it possible for RSVP staff to expand Bone Builder classes in the four county service area, and purchase weights, pay a fitness consultant to train lay leaders, and support operating and program promotional costs. Last year, 129 seniors — average age of 70 — participated in Bone Builder programs led by RSVP lay leaders.

Two other RSVP volunteer programs include “Born to Read,” through which RSVP volunteers read aloud to community day care centers and Headstart classes, and “Community Educator,” in which volunteers provide public presentations on topics related to elders’ health and safety. The programs are free to participants.

RSVP Director Paula Burnett can be reached at 262-7926 for additional information.

Contact: Paula Burnett, (207) 262-7926