Every year since 1963, May has been a month to appreciate and celebrate the vitality and aspirations of older adults and their contributions to our communities. This year’s theme for National Older Americans Month, Unleash the Power of Age, has never been more fitting. Older Americans are productive, active, and influential members of society, sharing essential talents, wisdom, and life experience with their families, friends, and neighbors.
Across the nation, Americans are living longer than ever before. The segment of our population age 65 or greater is growing every day. In Orange County, 65,000 of our 372,000 residents, more than 17% of our total population, are at least 65 years of age. Thanks to advances in medicine and technology, these senior citizens are also staying active and engaged in our community longer than ever before.
Now, after raising their families, having their careers - sometimes even multiple careers - many of our County’s older residents are taking on new roles in our community. We are so fortunate that many who have retired are now sharing their time, talent, and expertise to give back to others in Orange County. There are the grandparents who are raising their grandchildren; the health professionals who have joined the Medical Reserve Corps; the financial experts who help seniors and low income residents prepare their taxes; the volunteers who deliver meals to shut-ins, and the many others who do so much more to enhance and preserve the great quality of life we enjoy here in Orange County.
Many of these super seniors - 508 to be exact - participate in the Orange County Retired & Senior Volunteers Program (RSVP). Last year, these volunteers worked a cumulative 40,180 hours! If they were to be paid for this same time, the cost would be considerable. We are exceptionally grateful for the time they have shared so generously, as are the many organizations they serve. Among them are Hospice, Habitat for Humanity, Literacy Orange, the Arboretum, our local food pantries and hospitals, as well as many of the other not-for-profit organizations based in Orange County.
Each May, the Office for the Aging thanks the RSVP volunteers with a luncheon. This year marks the 39th annual luncheon and we will be honoring the work of the volunteers at food pantries and soup kitchens in our County. Volunteers put in 1,922 hours to help feed our friends and neighbors at Country Kids Food Pantry in Washingtonville, Hudson Valley Christian Church Food Pantry and St. Patrick’s Soup Kitchen, both in Newburgh.
For more information about how you can get involved with the Retired & Senior Volunteers Program, or any of our great Office for the Aging programs, visit www.orangecountygov.com. Remember, you only have to be 55 to get involved with RSVP.
Thank you again to our outstanding volunteers and to our seniors who have helped build the foundation for the great quality of life we enjoy here in Orange County today. Happy Older Americans Month!
Until next week, I wish you good health and happiness.