Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay announced today that it has received an AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP grant of $75,000 from the AmeriCorps federal agency to support 75 RSVP volunteers serving in Hernando County, Florida. The grant will expand Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay’s presence in Hernando, which was previously unserved by an AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP project.
With this new funding, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay will leverage the skills and experience of seniors in Hernando County to create more one-to-one mentoring relationships that ignite the power and promise of youth. These AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers will be mentors, or Bigs, who spend one-on-one time mentoring a child in their community, offering friendship and guidance for kids.
Most children and families served by Big Brothers Big Sisters are facing increased anxiety due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Mentoring relationships protect against the harmful effects of stress and build resilience among children. In response, Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay has completely reoriented our programming to virtually facilitate these life-changing relationships.
You can become a Big by attending a 90-minute virtual Big Orientation & Training session. View the schedule of orientations at bbbstampabay.org/be-a-big
Throughout the challenges of 2020, AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers persisted, supporting communities as they respond and recover from the impact of COVID-19. These dedicated volunteers have combatted food insecurity, helped students transition to online schooling, connected veterans to jobs and benefits, and responded to the community need created by the pandemic. AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers continue to respond creatively to the challenges presented by COVID-19, adapting their service models to better serve their communities while staying safe. These new COVID-safe service initiatives include sewing masks for first responders, making daily wellness calls to homebound senior citizens, and contact tracing.
AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers stay healthy and active through service, improving their own lives as they improve the lives of others. A growing body of research affirms the numerous mental and physical health benefits of volunteerism, including lower mortality rates, decreased rates of depression, and increased strength and energy. Findings from a recent agency-sponsored study show that AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serving with the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs report feeling less depressed and isolated, along with stable or improved health scores.
Today, AmeriCorps Seniors engages approximately 195,000 older Americans in service at 29,800 locations across the United States and territories through its Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, and RSVP programs. Established in 1971, RSVP engages Americans age 55 and older in service, responding to our nation’s most pressing challenges.