Give 5 program empowers older adults to volunteer with nonprofits across the Metro

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 7:29 PM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Nonprofits across the Metro are getting help from a new program called Give 5, where older adults spend five weeks going to different organizations to volunteer.

Although Peggy Harris is retired, she wanted to give back to the community. When she heard about Give 5, it was crucial for her to join.

“I think I get more from volunteering than I actually give,” Harris told News 4.

Going to different organizations, Harris said, has opened her eyes to the amount of need throughout the community.

“It was shocking in some of the facilities as to the clients they’re serving and the great needs that they have,” she said. “It just is heartbreaking. We all have a responsibility to help others in need.”

The civic matchmaking program brings volunteers to organizations like the St. Louis Area Diaper Bank, Operation Food Search, Beyond Housing and many others.

St. Louis Oasis is committed to enriching the lives of older adults, which is why it hosted the free program. Oasis Community Outreach Manager Sharon Hales told News 4 the focus was on organizations dealing with health disparities.

“The great divide within our community of the have and the have nots basically,” Hales said. “Finding ways we can come together, join forces, share resources to make things happen for everyone.”

Clarendale Clayton partnered with Oasis for Give 5. Meredith Evangelista with Clarendale Clayton said it’s striving to address what is often ignored.

“Staying engaged mentally and intellectually are so critically important to aging seniors,” Evangelista said. “We know that’s just one way to stay healthy and to really age in place is if you’re stimulating your mind and you continue to think.”

The goal after those five weeks is that program participants will continue to volunteer with at least one of the nonprofits for five hours a month. Participant Caroline Westhues plans to do just that.

“We all learned that there’s a lot more need in the community than we ever really realized, and there is a lot of disparity,” Westhues said.

Another Give 5 program will be open in May. Those interested in participating and nonprofits in search of volunteers can contact Oasis.

Give 5 is funded in part by the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services by a grant through Missouri Area Offices on Aging. Oasis also partnered with UnitedHealthcare as a sponsor in this program.

Funding from the state is also allowing this program to expand to six more locations across Missouri in Branson, Joplin, Jefferson City, Warrensburg, Columbia and Kansas City.