In 1964, Bob Dylan released the album The Times they are a-Changin’ to reflect his views on social injustices and the government’s unhelpful attitude toward change. It was, in fact, a protest song which became an anthem for many at the time. One month after the release, President John F. Kennedy was assassinated.
Why this trip back in history? Well, it appears that history is repeating itself. With our government’s inability to govern and pass budgets, they have created situations that are creating tensions for those whom they govern.
The impact on the Senior Corps programs have thus far been, two years of 20% reductions in funds for RSVP, a recompetition effort that may be well intentioned, but results in programming that may or may not be a priority for the area being served, but is a priority for those giving out money, and a recent announcement of a 4% reduction for FGP and SCP.
Meanwhile, a defense project, the F35, is $400 billion over budget, and is exempt from any of the cuts. You wonder why people are upset, frustrated and disenchanted? Yes, the times they are a-changin’.
As someone who has run a project for a number of years, I have come to realize, like it or not, that we will have to accept and adapt to the changes. What does it mean? We are still in the early stages, but it appears our priority areas of volunteer services will be increasing the number of home delivered meals drivers, the number of volunteers who want to drive individuals to doctor appointments, increase certain other services for seniors, focus on disaster preparedness, services for veterans, literacy and economic opportunities for individuals.
All of these are very honorable causes, but the catch is that a large majority of what RSVP will be involved with will have to have a measurable outcome. Well, “That,” you say, “is an honorable goal.” It is, until you find out that the tools being provided don’t really tell the story the way it should be told.
Furthermore, there is a total disregard for the research and data that points to volunteerism is simply good for one’s body, mind and soul. Do you want to know how many times people tell me that they feel better about themselves, feel healthier, and are actually happier because they volunteer??? Do you think that someone should pay attention to that data at a time when health care is such an issue, and this country has so many needs?
Yes, the times they are a-changin’, or -- are they?
This issue highlights some of our community servants because we will have celebrated National Volunteer Week, Older Americans Month and, maybe, yet another Hallmark Holiday not yet developed.
Sadly, another reason for the individual highlights is that this year’s annual Governor’s Service Awards have been postponed because of, (yes, you got it right) lack of money, and the times they are a-changin’!!!
We hope that our highlights will help bridge the gap, slight as it may be, that will be created by the cancellation of that event.
Unfortunately the negativity out of Washington coincides too much with a long winter. Maybe the annual Vermont Spring will provide for a new beginning that will yield new crops!!! Who knows?
I do know that the spirit of volunteerism is alive and, like in the past, change or no change, you will rise to the cause.
Thank you for your service to others.
J. Guy Isabelle, Director
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