Mesa United Way is looking for a few good 55-years-plus men and women. Eighteen of them, to be precise, to work as volunteers who will also be nominally compensated as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.
"I call it compensated volunteerism," said former Mesa Vice Mayor Claudia Walters, who's coordinating the project for Mesa United Way.
The nonprofit is the first in Arizona, and one of the first in the country, to train and bring on board two volunteers beginning Monday. That starts fulfilling one of the aims of the Recovery Act, which is to expand the AmeriCorps VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) programs. These programs are geared toward helping low-income people through job creation and credit counseling, among others.
The Recovery Act, signed into law by President Barack Obama in February, set aside $65 million to fund these VISTA members nationwide, who will help in activities ranging from fundraising to establishment of volunteer recruitment and management systems and community outreach.
Walters said these volunteers would work for 40 hours a week and would earn $10,380, along with health-care benefits for one year of service.
Mesa United Way would be the host agency for 18 other volunteers, who would, in turn, work for other organizations that need their services. These organizations include the Arizona Museum for Youth, East Valley Senior Services and Save The Family.
The VISTAs get paid directly by the federal government, Walters said.
Using those who are 55 or older is a way to sign on people with experience.
"It helps people reconnect to the community and use their lifetime skills to benefit others," said Walters. "They're gifting their talent to the community."
To find out more about the program, visit www.mesaunitedway.org or contact Walters at (480) 834-2127.