Clearfield RSVP Offers Public Safety Volunteer Opportunities
Editor’s Note: RSVP is a referral service designed to place volunteers in non-profit organizations where their knowledge and skills positively impact the community and individuals served. The following article is part of a monthly series by RSVP highlighting the community based involvement and service of RSVP volunteers.
RSVP of Clearfield County offers many opportunities for volunteers to serve the community. Impact areas for RSVP volunteers include education, environmental issues, health and human needs, community and economic development and public safety.
One public safety volunteer opportunity is with the AARP Driver Safety Program, a program developed by AARP and presented locally through a joint venture of AARP and the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging Inc.
In 1969, AARP volunteers began teaching a Defensive Driving Course (DDC). The DDC program was designed for drivers age 16 and over. Convinced that older drivers should have a training program of their own, AARP decided to create one, and in 1979 the AARP Driver Safety Program (then called “55 Alive”) was born.
As opposed to the younger drivers whose typical violations include speeding, reckless driving and DUI offences, older drivers’ typical violations include failure to yield right-of-way, incorrect lane changing and improper turning. This course was designed to teach defensive driving techniques. However, they added information on age-related changes that affect driving, such as vision and hearing changes, effects of medication, reaction time changes, new laws, hazardous driving situations and how to adjust driving in response to these changes. In general, older drivers have problems in driving situations that require quick response, full vision and interaction with other drivers.
According to the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, there are nearly 1.5 million licensed drivers aged 65 and older in the Commonwealth, making up 17 percent of Pennsylvania’s driving population. Pennsylvania is the second largest state in terms of population that is 65 or older. State Data Center statistics indicate that the number of Pennsylvanians 65 and older will increase 21 percent by the year 2020.
With Pennsylvania being a state with a very rural population, it is difficult for people to function without transportation. The loss of mobility can be devastating to the lives of older Pennsylvanians. Many older people are capable of driving safely and have a lifetime of valuable driving experience to draw upon.
Each month, 1,900 drivers over the age of 45 are chosen for retesting six months prior to the date of their driver’s license renewal. Each selected driver is required to undergo vision and physical examinations. If warranted by the results of the medical exam, those selected may also be required to successfully complete a driver’s examination and knowledge test.
Volunteer instructors trained by AARP present this important driving safety course through a combination of video presentations and group discussions. Most courses are taught in two, four-hour sessions. Although geared for drivers 55 and older, the course is open to people of any age. AARP membership is not required to take this course and there are no final exams to pass. A fee is charged for the course, and participants age 55 and over who successfully complete the course are eligible for a premium discount on their automobile insurance.
RSVP volunteer, Dr. Donna Tubbs teaches at least 10 courses per year in various locations. “I am retired. I enjoy retirement, but I also enjoy serving the community,” said Tubbs. “It is nice to meet new people and to renew old acquaintances – sometimes even seeing former students back in my class again. I like helping people maintain good driving habits.” Tubbs will be conducting two classes at the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging Inc.’s Clearfield Center for Active Living. For first-time participants, an eight-hour course will be held Oct. 31 and Nov. 7. A four-hour refresher course for people who have taken the course before will be held Nov. 14. If interested, you may call the CCAAA to register at (814) 765-2696. During the month of November, veterans and their families may take the course at no charge.
This is a volunteer opportunity for the “younger” volunteer. If still working, the volunteer has the flexibility to schedule the course for evenings or weekends. They also have the flexibility to conduct one driving course a month or schedule two if they want. If you want to make an impact on our community and are age 55 or over, why not check into becoming an AARP Driver Safety Instructor for RSVP?
OCTOBER VOLUNTEER CORNER
AMERICAN RED CROSS: The American Red Cross is looking for volunteers to assist with disaster services and for area bloodmobiles. There are many shifts from which to choose. You can do your part in time of need. The Red Cross provides training and scheduling is flexible. You could assist at a local fire or disaster or take training to assist with National disasters.
CLERICAL HELP: Many non-profit organizations throughout Clearfield County have requested assistance with clerical duties. Duties would include answering phones, taking messages, making copies and getting information out to the volunteers. Scheduling is flexible, so if you enjoy office work, this opportunity is for you.
SPECIAL EVENTS VOLUNTEERS: RSVP receives many requests for volunteers to assist with “one-time” special events. Some examples may include projects for Make A Difference Day or Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, selling chances for an organization, registering participants for an event, etc. If you would like to make a difference, but not be locked into a steady volunteer position, why not call the RSVP office and sign up for Special Events.
FRIENDLY VISITORS: Many nursing/personal care homes would like to have volunteers add
something special for the residents. Why not share your time, talents and friendships by donating a little time each week visiting, helping with activities such as Bingo, or leading a reminisce program?
If you are interested in any of the above volunteer opportunities or would like to learn more about RSVP, please call the RSVP office at (814) 765-2226 or 1-800-225-8571.
RSVP is sponsored and partially funded by the Clearfield County Area Agency on
Aging Inc. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Clearfield and DuBois Area United Way agencies, memorials and contributions.