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Department of Aging Hosts Three-Day Volunteer Conference to Engage and Recognize Network of Volunteers

04/04/2024

​Bethlehem, PA – The Pennsylvania Department of Aging (PDA) this week welcomed more than 220 volunteers and staff from 49 counties to Wind Creek Bethlehem for its first-ever three-day Aging Network Volunteer Conference, which presented information and resources to individuals who give their time and talent to deliver aging services offered by PDA through Pennsylvania’s 52 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). The conference also provided an opportunity to celebrate the work accomplished by volunteers. 


“This conference is a unique forum for our volunteers to meet with their fellow volunteers from across the Commonwealth in the same program areas while engaging, recognizing and strengthening their skill sets. Our aging network couldn’t deliver the services that it does without the support of more than 11,000 volunteers. These caring individuals play a vital role in multiple programs that help older adults stay informed, healthy, independent and in their communities. A volunteer is often the friendly face and greeting that older adults associate with our programs,” said Secretary of Aging Jason Kavulich. “I commend all the Pennsylvanians who devote countless hours to volunteering. I also invite anyone who may be thinking about volunteering to join our robust group of aging network volunteers. It’s an opportunity to make a difference not only in the lives of older adults, but also in their own lives.”

The more than 11,000 aging network volunteers across the Commonwealth donate an estimated 156,000 hours of service a year with an estimated value of nearly $5 million. These volunteers support PDA and its services for older adults in various program areas including PA MEDI, Office of Long-Term Care Ombudsman, Pennsylvania Council on Aging, Health & Wellness, Senior Community Centers, Home-Delivered and Congregate Meals, Senior Companion, Foster Grandparent, Retired Senior Volunteer, Family Caregiver Support Programs, and Transportation Services. 

The conference kicked off with welcoming remarks from Lori Stanton Laney, Northampton County Area Agency on Aging Acting Administrator; Lamont McClure, Northampton County Executive; and Steve Rodgers, Education and Outreach Director from PDA. 

The three-day event offered educational workshops and informational sessions for volunteers and staff who support them including Navigating Challenges and Finding Fulfillment as a Volunteer by Linda Beck, Beck & Associates; Future Care Planning by Sarah Andrews, Esq., North Penn Legal Services; Ways to Reframe Messaging on Aging by Hannah Albers, National Center to Reframe Aging; Dementia Friendly Pennsylvania by Stacie Bonenberger and Anneliese Perry, Jewish Healthcare Foundation; Independence to Serve and Live by Carol Harris, Dering Consulting Group; Volunteer Recruitment and Retention by Susan Neff and Veronica Kell from PDA; an update on Aging Our Way, PA, Pennsylvania’s master plan by Kevin Hancock from PDA; a presentation from Ms. Senior Pennsylvania, Sally Winchell; Meeting the Needs of LGBTQ+ Older Adults by Emma Bessire from SAGE; and a keynote address on the Aging Brain by Dr. Susan Wehry from Aging Maine’s Geriatrics Workforce Enhancement Program. 

The conference was also held as part of Global Volunteer Month to recognize and thank volunteers who lend their time, talent, and voice to make a difference in their communities. To commemorate this work, Secretary Kavulich hosted a Volunteer Recognition Dinner to honor all volunteers and to celebrate the commitment of those who have served five years and more and those who served 10 years and more. The dinner also featured a volunteer stories video and a performance by the Liberty High School Choir from Bethlehem. 

To learn more about volunteer opportunities within the aging network or to sign up to volunteer, visit the Department of Aging's website.

MEDIA CONTACT: Jack Eilber, agingcomms@pa.gov


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