Seniors volunteer for Foster Grandparent Program in Newport News

NEWPORT NEWS, Va (WAVY) — When it comes time to retire, it can be hard to accept your days will be lighter and there may be less people around you on a day-to-day basis.

For many seniors, this can lead to depression and loss of a healthy lifestyle.

However, a recent study shows volunteering with the youth in your community can help you live longer and avoid those feelings.

The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) found Senior Corps volunteers reported much higher self-rated health scores, compared to older adults in similar circumstances who do not volunteer.

Eighty-four percent of volunteers in these programs reported stable health after two years of service. Another 78 percent of those reported five or more symptoms at the beginning of the CNCS study said they felt less depressed two years later.

10 On Your Side spoke with volunteers from the Foster Grandparent Program in Newport News. These seniors said it’s actually the kids who are helping them.

Evelyn Freeman has always tried to stay busy

"As long as I can do something, if I can do one thing to help people, my living will not be in vain," Freeman said.

"I sing in the Choir, yes I can make up tunes I can carry a tune other than a bucket, cause sitting at home looking at the four walls, I can see five or six walls," she added.

At 91, Freeman’s favorite thing to do is be a foster grandparent.

"It’s really an inspiration to me myself because they bring us so much, that we need to know as senior citizens and I love it," she said.

Freeman and other senior volunteers 55 and older work with at risk students in the classroom as mentors and tutors.

Freeman said she knows she is in good health and credits her volunteer time.

"I’m pretty healthy. I went to the doctor and he told me everything was good. He listened to my heart looked at my ears and my nose and touched my back and my ribs and all. He said it sounds good to him. If it sounds good to him, it sounds good to me," she said.

Eunice Hollnad has been with the program for 17 years and said it is the best decision she’s ever made.

"Had I not been introduced to this program I don’t know where I would be right now, If I would even be here today or not," said Holland

It’s not a title they take lightly.

"I’m emotional. When you see children that need so much care and help and we are there for them. And I tell them all the time I feel like we are their part that they need and that makes you feel good too," Holland said.

Nor is it something they’ll soon give up

"I wouldn’t change my life for anything," said Freeman.

Eunice and Evelyn work for the Newport News foster grandparent program, but there are programs all over Hampton Roads. More information can be found at this link.

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