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Seniors are a Treasured Resource
On July 14th, we mark the 47th anniversary of the Older Americans Act, the first federal law providing comprehensive services in our communities for seniors.
In West Virginia, over 279,000 of our residents are over the age of 65, and, each year, about 27,000 Baby Boomers turn 60. West Virginians have lived through challenging times and have worked hard all their lives in our coal fields, schools, hospitals and many other places throughout our communities. As older residents reach their senior years, the programs provided through the Older Americans Act, such as nutrition, transportation, and home services, will not only help seniors who are in need of every assistance, but also promote healthy, longer lives.
But as we celebrate older West Virginians, we should take this time to honor the service that seniors give in our southern communities, as it is truly remarkable.
In West Virginia, we know that our strength comes from the heart of our communities, a virtue we continue to witness now as our state recovers from the vicious storms of the past few weeks. You needn’t look far to see that older residents are the glue that hold our communities together, and that we can learn from their wisdom and deep roots. We see neighbors and friends lending a hand to those in need, and seniors are the ones steering the values of kindness, giving and generosity that we see, not only in times of distress, but each and every day.
Throughout our state, seniors not only take part in community programs, but they are also the ones we see selflessly serving others. We have over 1,000 seniors that volunteer in southern West Virginia through the Senior Corps programs and many others throughout the state, who offer their time to assist others in various and independent ways.
Through RSVP, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, seniors in southern West Virginia volunteer to tutor children, renovate homes, assist victims of disaster and provide independent living services. For over 40 years, the RSVP program has provided a guiding light to our states’ most vulnerable citizens.
As Foster Grandparents, over 80 seniors in southern West Virginia offer support to children and youth each week. These children are truly blessed to have such caring and attentive volunteers help with school work, health and general family support, and often form long relationships which are invaluable to the growth of every child.
Seniors also serve as companions to other seniors, helping their friends to remain independent and healthy through grocery shopping, ensuring they receive necessary medical care and even just taking a walk.
We are lucky to be home to so many active seniors in southern West Virginia, who provide the best of examples in teaching all of us the importance of community. To them, a community is more than just a place to live; it is a place to love and cherish. It is a place where you give back, and you don’t think twice about assisting those in need.
I thank our seniors for their strength, wisdom and service. I pledge to continue to work and fight for the programs and services they depend on, now and in the future.
U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall (D-WV) represents West Virginia’s 3rd District
For more information contact: Diane Luensmann (202) 225-3452