Volunteer Engagement Case Studies and Replication Guides

Two men playing pool

At a time when our nation’s aging population is growing at a faster pace than ever before yet funding for aging services is eroding, many communities are relying more than ever on volunteers to help deliver critical home and community-based services to older adults who need some support to remain healthy and independent at home. In 2014, the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) with funding from the U.S. Administration for Community Living (ACL) announced six winning programs from agencies that took part in a national competition to recognize and support the work that trained volunteer teams are playing in communities across the country in making sure that older adults get to critical medical appointments, are counseled in Medicare Options and more.

See how these agencies expanded their reach with volunteer teams of older adults and consider the expanded roles that volunteers could play within your organization.

Counseling Older Adults on Medicare
Area Agency on Aging 1-B, Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP), Southfield, MI
In two years, a group of 150 volunteers has educated and empowered twice as many Medicare beneficiaries on their benefits and plan options than agency staff could do alone. As the volunteers have helped to reinvigorate the Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program, community partnerships have increased by 376%. And the program is sustainable; the agency’s volunteer retention rate has risen to 82%. More

Neighbors Driving Neighbors
Blount County Council on Aging, Senior SMiles: Neighbors Driving Neighbors, Maryville, TN

Thanks to a team of 64 older adult volunteers, 101 older adults in rural Blount County, Tennessee, who cannot drive now can make their doctor’s appointments, go grocery shopping, and visit with others. Together in just the inaugural year, the SMiles members and volunteers have covered over 20,000 miles, and these volunteer drivers have enabled the Office on Aging to extend over $46,000 worth of transportation. More

Easing Hunger
Caregiver Volunteers of Central Jersey, Easing Hunger Volunteer Team, Toms River, NJ

In addition to wreaking destruction, Superstorm Sandy disrupted the lives of volunteers at an interfaith nonprofit agency in New Jersey, leaving elderly and disabled clients without support. A new crop of volunteers who could not do physical labor offered their aid, launching an online grocery shopping service to ensure vulnerable clients received food deliveries. Two years later, this program continues, and the new model triples the agency’s ability to serve. More

Connecting Seniors with Computers’ Benefits
Newark Senior Center, Senior Surfers Computer Club, Newark, DE

At a senior center in Newark, Delaware, 400 volunteer members of a computer club teach each other computer skills, from basic to advanced. Members learn in a state-of-the-art lab and hands-on classes, all run by volunteers. Low-income members get help buying refurbished equipment. Member dues support the club, at only $5 per year and $5 per class. More

Volunteers Recruiting Volunteers
Pima Council on Aging, Green Valley-Sahuarita Volunteer Clearinghouse, Tucson, AZ

An all-volunteer team of 25 older adults developed by PCOA has linked thousands of prospective volunteers with 83 community-based agencies in Green Valley and Sahuarita and, last year, produced a $1.87 million return on investment. Now considered a major recruiter of volunteers and trainer of volunteer coordinators, the Green Valley-Sahuarita Volunteer Clearinghouse (GVSVC) project gives purpose and assistance to older adults. More

Volunteers Driving a Transportation Program
Rides For Ridgefield, Rides For Ridgefield, Ridgefield, CT

Concerned that their older neighbors needed easy, affordable transportation to keep living in their homes, older adult volunteers in Ridgefield, Connecticut, formed a task force and then a transportation alliance. In the first year, more than 120 riders and 23 Mobility Management Center volunteers, primarily older adults themselves, including 13 drivers, have joined the program. Already, volunteers have provided more than 400 rides. More

Additional Case Studies and Replication Guides

Volunteer Consultant Program, Montgomery County, MD
Keeping Older Adults Safely at Home, Wailuki, HI