Village of Great Neck Plaza trustees, its Citizens Advisory Committee and AARP Livable Communities Program hosted the village’s first volunteer event on Thursday, drawing dozens of people and ten non-profit organizations to village hall.
The move was part of the village’s “Age-Friendly Communities” program, which has been coordinated by AARP, the CAC and Great Neck Plaza. The initiative aims to improve the quality of living for senior residents.
“We were talking at one of our monthly meetings about getting the community more involved, bringing the community out,” said Jack Kott, North Hempstead’s AARP volunteer coordinator, “because seniors become so isolated in a lot of ways.”
Census data from 2010 shows that roughly a third of Great Neck Plaza’s residents are 65 and older and that about a quarter of North Hempstead is 60 or over. This change is reflective of the aging population nationwide.
“It’s the right kind of event to have in Great Neck because it’s not so much connecting people to jobs, but we have a lot of retirees and seniors that have time on their hands and they want to give back to the community and work and volunteer,” Great Neck Plaza Mayor Jean Celender said.
But the event was public and not limited to seniors, Celender added.
For people interested in volunteering, there was no shortage of options — even within each of the ten organizations present.
The Great Neck Historical Society, for example, said they were looking for help with everything from app development and research to producing a historical coloring book and giving presentations.
“There’s a niche for everybody,” Alice Kasten, the group’s president, said.
To Sham Quin Chin Gee, a longtime volunteer at the Joy Fu Club and CERT, volunteering was an opportunity use her cooking and professional skills, meet with other people and reach out to the community to share Chinese culture. It has been rewarding, Gee said, for the connections it forged.
“I think it helps people understand each other,” she said.
Qi Wang, a retired Great Neck resident examining the Gold Coast Arts Center’s table, said she found this event to be direct and very helpful.
“I hope they continue this for every year,” Wang said.
Organizations seeking volunteers at the event included AARP, COPAY Inc., the Gold Coast Arts Center, Grace Plaza Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, the Great Neck Historical Society, Great Neck Social Center, Vigilant Fire Company, Northwell Health, Parker Jewish Institute and Public Access Television Corporation.