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National Volunteer Month: a reading list

OUPBlog: “On 20 April 1974, President Richard M. Nixon declared National Volunteer Week those Americans whose unpaid “efforts most frequently touch the lives of the poor, the young, the aged and the sick, but in the process the lives of all men and women are made richer.” Since that time, this commemoration has been extended to a full month to recognize the nearly one-in-four Americans, numbering nearly 63 million, who offer their time, energy, and skills to their communities. Volunteer activities are far-ranging and encompass activities like tutoring school children, beautifying run-down neighborhoods and littered highways, planting community gardens, giving tours of historical sites, ringing up purchases at a hospital gift shop, delivering meals to homebound older adults, performing music for nursing home residents, or offering one’s professional, managerial, or organizational skills to non-profit organizations.

While it might appear that older adults are the recipients of volunteer labor, they actually play a large and vital role in the volunteer work force. A recent study by the Corporation for National Community and Service documented that more than 21 million adults aged 55 and older contributed more than 3 billion hours of volunteer service to their communities in 2015, with these contributions valued at $77 billion.

Each April, National Volunteer Month provides a time to celebrate the contributions of volunteers young and old, raise awareness of the personal and societal benefits of volunteering, increase public support for this vast and often invisible unpaid workforce, and educate potential volunteers about the opportunities available to them. In honor of the 21 million older adult volunteers, we have created a reading list of articles from Gerontological Society of America journals that reveal new scientific insights into the benefits of volunteering for older adults and the people and communities they help…”

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