PROPOSAL TO CREATE A SENIOR VOLUNTEER CORPS

My parents, Charlotte and Larry Bardack, have lived in Leisure World for more than a dozen years. Over this time, I've had the chance to meet many of their friends and neighbors. It seems to me, there are really two Leisure Worlds.

The first consists of those seniors who are positive about life and physically active. This Leisure World can be found in the Club Houses, on the golf course, and at meetings of the Leisure World Democrats and dozens of other clubs. For this Leisure World, life is full of ongoing mountains still to be climbed.

But there's also another Leisure World. This Leisure World has difficulty venturing from its condos and apartments, and focuses much of its energy on trying - not always successfully - to cope with the logistics of daily life: getting to and from medical appointments; figuring out how to make a shopping run at Wheaton Plaza; trying to remember which pills to take each day, and when.

My campaign is premised on the notion that all lives deserve to be lived with dignity: whether one is a worker, a small business owner, or a senior.

I am calling for creation of a statewide Senior Volunteer Corps, a statewide effort to galvanize volunteers of all ages to help residents of the second Leisure World - and seniors throughout our state struggling to live independent lives - better cope with the logistical hurdles they confront.

Here, a volunteer could drive an "adopted grandparent" to and from a dental visit. There, another volunteer could accompany a senior couple to the movies, getting them snacks before the show begins. And there, yet another volunteer could take a senior with a physical disability to and from Metro, saving the senior the cost of a $30 round trip cab ride.

Here in Montgomery County, we have wonderful organizations like Senior Connection that do some of this, but they would be the first to admit that they don't have nearly the number of volunteers to tackle more than a small fraction of the demand. Just imagine, then, if they - and organizations statewide like them - could tap into a pool of new volunteers developed by our state.

Just imagine what life could then be like for our state's seniors.

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