Kim Bowen, 62, will graduate with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology with a minor in sociology in July. During a social gerontology class, she heard about VANTAGE Aging and felt immediately connected. She is now a volunteer for the AmeriCorps Seniors program, the nation’s largest volunteer network for people 55 and older.
Joining AmeriCorps Seniors; RSVP program was sparked by an increasing desire to create change for the better. Kim retired after working 25 years as an optometrist. She thought she would be content with settling down, “digging in the dirt and baking cookies all day.”
As it turned out, she wasn’t.
Frustrated with her routine, Kim felt called to do something more. Living in the city (of Akron), she realized that there was a lot she could do for others and that she didn’t have to go far to do it.
Sensing a spirit of defeat in her community, Kim’s decision to join VANTAGE RSVP was her “charge for change in the world.”
On her first day as an RSVP volunteer, she helped with the Brown Bag Medication Review Program, a service provided by VANTAGE Behavioral Health Solutions.
At a Brown Bag event, VANTAGE staff, volunteers, and a pharmacist provide breakfast, medication reviews, and a presentation on safe medication practices to residents of senior living centers in Summit County. The program promotes healthy aging by ensuring seniors are taking prescription and over-the-counter medications that are not expired or inappropriate for their individual healthcare needs.
Kim welcomed residents and providing them with the necessary paperwork. She assisted in making sure information was correct so that each person would receive a smooth and simple medication review.
Interested in becoming an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer? Sign up hereor call 330-253-4597 x166.
A Passion for Social Change
Kim’s experiences have shaped her mission to help the world in the big ways. The Vietnam War, Civil Rights and Women’s Movements, and an unsettled home life all impacted her point of view. These times have created a rebellious spirit driven to create change for the better, lend a hand when possible, and speak out for those in need.
Grinning, Kim explained, “They made me the little monster that I am.” With a new degree and volunteer participation under her belt, Kim isn’t planning to slow down.
Up Next: Working towards a Master’s Degree in Community Psychology.
Facing issues in the aging community
Kim advises looking at the world through your own eyes, instead of only listening to what others tell you is happening. Get out in your community and observe. Then, do what you can to make it better.
One issue that Kim feels strongly about is social isolation. She says that she has been lucky to have close family and friends, but not everyone in the aging community has someone to turn to for a conversation or support.
In Ohio, over 600,000 seniors are isolated, living alone. Isolation puts older adults at risk of hunger, falls, and depression, among other issues.
Small supports provided by the community can help reduce senior isolation and the negative impacts it has on older adults, but funding can be a challenge for many organizations.
Joining the VANTAGE team
Since Kim’s been familiar with VANTAGE for a long time, she noted the changes the agency has made in the last several years, including a name change, move, and rebrand.
Through this, the mission to help older adults age in place successfully has remained the driving force behind the organization. Kim sees huge value in the holistic wellness approach to the programs and services offered by VANTAGE that is unique to Summit County.
With her help as an RSVP volunteer, we can continue to serve older adults wishing to live independently at home and be active in the community.