Pennsylvania Department of Aging Hosts Inaugural Volunteer Conference to Strengthen Aging Network

Department of Aging

BETHLEHEM, PA — The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) this past week hosted its first-ever Aging Network Volunteer Conference. The event, held at Wind Creek Bethlehem, brought together over 220 volunteers and staff from 49 counties, offering a platform to enhance skills, share experiences, and celebrate the invaluable contributions of volunteers to Pennsylvania’s aging services.

Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich highlighted the conference as a pivotal moment for volunteers across the Commonwealth to connect, engage, and reinforce their commitment to aiding older adults. “Our aging network couldn’t deliver the services that it does without the support of more than 11,000 volunteers,” Kavulich stated, emphasizing the profound impact these individuals have on the lives of older Pennsylvanians.

Volunteers in the aging network play a crucial role in a wide array of programs designed to keep older adults informed, healthy, and independent within their communities. From assistance with medical insurance queries through PA MEDI to support services like home-delivered meals and transportation, volunteers are often the first point of contact for many older adults engaging with PDA’s programs.

The collective efforts of these volunteers translate into an estimated 156,000 hours of service annually, with a monetary value nearing $5 million. This significant contribution not only aids countless older adults across Pennsylvania but also represents a substantial economic benefit to the state’s aging services ecosystem.

The conference featured a diverse agenda aimed at both celebrating volunteer achievements and providing educational opportunities to further empower these vital community members. Sessions covered topics ranging from navigating volunteer challenges to planning for future care needs, as well as addressing the specific requirements of LGBTQ+ older adults. Notably, the event coincided with Global Volunteer Month, amplifying its message of gratitude and recognition for volunteers who dedicate their time and talents to making a difference.

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A highlight of the conference was the Volunteer Recognition Dinner hosted by Secretary Kavulich, which honored volunteers for their dedication, particularly those who have served for five or more years. The dinner also included a volunteer stories video and a performance by the Liberty High School Choir, adding a personal touch to the evening’s celebrations.

This inaugural conference not only served as a testament to the power of volunteerism within the aging network but also set a precedent for future initiatives aimed at supporting and acknowledging the crucial role volunteers play in the well-being of older adults in Pennsylvania.

As the PDA and its affiliated Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) continue to navigate the challenges and opportunities of providing services to an aging population, the support and dedication of volunteers remain indispensable. The Aging Network Volunteer Conference has laid a foundation for continued growth, collaboration, and appreciation of the tireless efforts of volunteers, ensuring that Pennsylvania’s older adults receive the care and support they deserve.

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