Welcome to Our Weekly Magazine

Become the best version of yourself Sign-up for our weekly magazine.

Become the best version of yourself today.

We send a weekly roundup of our best work and highlight standout community members. It's free, and you can always leave if it's not your jam.


If Purpose Is Calling, I’ve Got an Answer

Moved and uplifted by my time with volunteers in my community

“I’m the one receiving all the benefits.” I heard this exact statement and about 10 different versions reflecting the same sentiment while meeting and shadowing volunteers from AmeriCorps Seniors, the national volunteer organization for adults aged 55 and up. With a decent personal history of volunteerism, I’m aware of the full spectrum of benefits that come with giving your time. But it’s been a few years since I last volunteered. I got busy with life and forgot how volunteering can feel. This would be a reminder.

I shook hands with and spoke to volunteers from all walks of life. I met volunteers who are former professors, teachers, school bus drivers, social workers, grant writers, nurses and state attorneys. They are parents, grandparents, dog owners and non-traditional students. Some were shy and hesitant to talk about themselves, while others were outgoing and willing to share everything.

As I enter my mid-50s and learn to live in a newly emptied nest, I find myself looking for a good way to start volunteering again. I’m also looking for purpose and connection. My time with AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers showed me how to find both.

My (half) day

I wanted the experience. I wanted to see the people and the program in action. I got all that and more walking into the Wedgewood Houston area of Nashville, where AmeriCorps Seniors partners with local organizations to facilitate their community-based programs. I was paired with the team behind the FiftyForward Fresh program. Color me impressed. This community service is nothing like the senior meal delivery programs you may have been aware of growing up. 

Thanks to a great local partnership with the Nashville Food Project, FiftyForward Fresh delivers fresh meals to people in need. On Thursdays, they also deliver a healthy frozen meal for the weekend. This team has a streamlined process that covers every detail. 

How it works

Most volunteers I met and spoke with donate one day a week and a max of two hours per day. Many AmeriCorps Seniors opportunities range from a few hours per week to up to 40 hours per week. 

Volunteers arrive to pick up the fresh, individually packaged meals (I even watched them being portioned out in the kitchen) and are given a route list. They have a recurring route but sometimes pick up additional deliveries depending on need. Each route has been designed for maximum delivery efficiency, with some routes taking less than an hour from pick up to finish. 

What I was reminded of

Volunteering feels good. Being able to volunteer is often seen as a blessing, and this group of volunteers felt very thankful for their involvement with the program. Those delivering meals get to know the folks on their route and become invested in their lives and well-being. As they shared stories of the joy, loneliness, friendship, suffering and laughter they’ve encountered, I was moved right along with them. 

One of the people I shadowed was an amazing woman who uses her deliveries to climb stairs and get her daily steps in. She reaps the benefits of volunteering, connection and movement all in one powerful hour. As I pulled into my own driveway later that sunny afternoon, I found myself singing, smiling and tired after 15 flights of stairs.

My morning was a 360-degree view of how volunteers take advantage of the flexibility within the AmeriCorps Senior programs. With three options to choose from (RSVP, the Senior Companion Program and the Foster Grandparent Program), there is something for everyone.

If you want to start or re-start with volunteering, AmeriCorps Seniors is a great place to look. They even have a service to help you find local volunteering opportunities that match your passions and availability. What’s holding you back? Take that first step; maybe you will end your day smiling and singing on the ride home like me.

Image by Emily April Allen.

See medical disclaimer below. ↓


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

The ideas expressed here are solely the opinions of the author and are not researched or verified by AGEIST LLC, or anyone associated with AGEIST LLC. This material should not be construed as medical advice or recommendation, it is for informational use only. We encourage all readers to discuss with your qualified practitioners the relevance of the application of any of these ideas to your life. The recommendations contained herein are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. You should always consult your physician or other qualified health provider before starting any new treatment or stopping any treatment that has been prescribed for you by your physician or other qualified health provider. Please call your doctor or 911 immediately if you think you may have a medical or psychiatric emergency.

Ashley Feltner
Ashley is a writer, an artist, and an ideator who has placed storytelling into her process for bringing sales and marketing ideas to life for over 20 years. Her background includes recruiting, training, content development, and ERG leadership within highly matrixed organizations that provide her a unique perspective and an ability to authentically connect with individuals from all walks of life. With the desire to place a little humanity into the digital experience, Ashley believes that words do matter, a little empathy goes a long way, and having a purpose in life is imperative. She and her husband Gabe live in Nashville, TN with two very active teenage daughters and two very lazy field spaniels.

Join the AGEIST movement!
Sign-up for our weekly newsletter.

Recommended Articles


LATEST Profiles

Latest in Health Science