Press release from United Way of Asheville and Buncombe County:
Long naps, catching up on some daytime TV and rocking on the porch with friends - sure these things can still be a nice part of a life in retirement, but don’t expect to see much of it if you meet a member of Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at UNC-Asheville (OLLI). They are too involved in their community for all that!
This spring OLLI sent out a call-to-action among its membership; let’s focus on hunger/food insecurity issues and really get to know what is going on here in our community. They called on Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, the volunteer center of United Way, to develop a rich series of service-learning opportunities to both inform OLLI members about the hunger issue in our area and also engage them in solutions.
Hands On Asheville-Buncombe, in conjunction with the OLLI civic engagement committee, developed and managed four projects resulting in 66 volunteers who contributed 187 hours of service. Not only are the numbers impressive, but the impact of the service is even greater:
Project 1. MANNA Foodbank OLLI volunteers created 1,080 Manna Packs For Kids to feed at-risk elementary school children in Western North Carolina. During this project, volunteers repackaged more than 1,000 bags of rice and sorted 2,500 pounds of squash, potatoes and eggplant. That means local families in need enjoyed approximately 1,250 meals that contained fresh vegetables.
Project 2. Hall Fletcher Elementary’s Community Garden Students learn about nutrition when they help grow their own food at the Hall Fletcher Community Garden. OLLI volunteers sorted and cleaned containers the students would eventually use in their student-run farmer’s market. They built and painted garden markers and two stacked raised beds.
Project 3. Rainbow In My Tummy (RIMT) RIMT helps both childcare facilities and parents of school-aged children learn ways to make better food choices for their youngsters. OLLI volunteers tested existing RIMT recipes to determine if they yielded appropriate portion sizes when scaled down from institution sized portions to ones more appropriate for families. RIMT plans to give those recipes to families to use at home to incorporate healthy, nutritious meals as part of their weekly meal planning. Volunteers also tested new recipes that will be incorporated into the RIMT program, potentially benefitting more than 1,000 families.
Project 4. Enka Middle Community School Fair The Enka Middle Community School Fair was a community meal and celebration to celebrate the first year of accomplishments for the community school at Enka Middle. OLLI volunteers brought side dishes and prepared food at the event for the families. They assisted with event set-up and breakdown and staffed the welcome tables and kids activities. Without OLLI’s help, event organizers wouldn’t have been able to successfully engage the more than 200 families, resource exhibitors and school staff who came out to celebrate. Every day OLLI members have demonstrated that retirement is not what it used to be. The Great Recession changed the way many Americans expect to experience retirement. Many will need to extend the years that they remain in the workforce or alter the details of their retirement itself. However, not all news is grim. OLLI members and other groups around the country are choosing to “retire with a purpose”. They want to have an impact in their local communities and want to be engaged in volunteer opportunities that allow them to have large social impact, even utilizing the skill sets they acquired over years working as professionals. Not only are OLLI members and others looking to give back, but some retirees around the country want to be involved in what is called, “encore careers.” These are opportunities that allow for personal fulfillment, have a social impact and allow the retiree to earn some income.
To become involved in OLLI’s Call-to-Action, visit www.olliasheville.com/civic-engagement, or attend their upcoming free and public event, “Local Food: The Default, Not the Exception” with Emily Jackson of the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) on Friday, June 21 from 11:30 am – 1:30 pm in the Manheimer Room at the Reuter Center.
Leadership Asheville Seniors, a learning and civic engagement program of OLLI, provides a multi-faceted view of Asheville and Buncombe County. To learn more, visit www.olliasheville.com/LAS.
Hands On Asheville is the perfect matchmaking service for doing good. Hands On engages groups in volunteer projects, manages quick impact projects that engage individuals and benefit partner agencies, organizes large scale days of service, manages a professional development program for people who work with volunteers, and operates a web site that is a clearinghouse for community involvement and change. To learn more about a variety of volunteer opportunities that fit your life and interests, please visit www.handsonasheville.org. Please contact Hands On if your company or civic group is interested in participating in a Hands On managed group project.
For more information, contact:
Michelle Bennett, Hands On Asheville-Buncombe director 255-0696
Chuck Rosenblum, Civic Engagement Committee, chair, OLLI at UNC-Asheville 201-230-1664