Valley organizations recruiting retired volunteers

FRESNO, Calif.

Charities and non-profit organizations are actively recruiting volunteers who are retired.

The historic water tower in Downtown Fresno stands as solidly today as the year it was built in 1876.

But inside is an updated visitor's bureau, gallery and gift shop bustling with activity and a team of volunteers ready to help tourists and Fresnans get to know the community.

81-year-old retired Fresno County social worker, Fred Fitchhorn puts his vast knowledge of Downtown Fresno to good use helping people find places to go in the city.

"I was always familiar with downtown Fresno and how it's changed and always remembered in the 50's and 60's how vibrant Downtown Fresno was," Fitchhorn said.

Fred's fellow volunteer, 69-year-old Mary Ann Dunkin, worked for 34 years as the general manager of a large restaurant chain. Now she serves customers in the gallery and gift shop.

"If I wasn't doing this, I'd be sitting on my recliner which is not a good idea," Dunkin said.

And so, there's benefits both ways.

Mary Ann and Fred are both volunteers with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, of Hands On Central California, an organization that pairs volunteers with agencies across the Valley.

Program Director Robbie Cranch says retirees make perfect volunteers.

"It's all the benefits of the energy that goes with a volunteer with maturity to boot," Cranch said. "They see themselves as movers and shakers. They see themselves as doers and creators and they want to keep doing that."

That's what a recent poll found on volunteerism. A survey by the Associated Press and National Constitution Center found 65% of Baby Boomers had done some type of volunteer activity in the past year.

Many organizations are recruiting retirees because they come with a set of skills and are open to learning new ones.

HOCC and the RSVP program still has several positions open at the visitor's bureau and gift shop inside the Fresno water tower, as well as just up the street at City Hall at the information desk and the info desk at FYI. The volunteer opportunities are endless, just like the experience and talents of the volunteers.

For these volunteers the second time around, it's a labor of love.

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