In 1999, Beryl Katz, a former teacher, created Senior Adults for Greater Education (S.A.G.E.), a nonprofit that matches community members 55 and older with volunteer opportunities within local school districts.
The goal was to bring generations together for their mutual benefit, and it has been a win-win for everyone involved.
“Our country has the largest and fastest-growing population of older adults in history,” said Katz. “Tapping into their experience and knowledge and utilizing this natural resource to help our students makes perfect sense!”
The engagement achieved by placing senior volunteers in K-12 classrooms benefits their psychological well-being, morale, sense of purpose, and even their perceptions about youth. Teachers, on the other hand, love S.A.G.E. because volunteers enable them to give more individualized attention to students. (Specialty volunteer placements also help teachers bring lesson plans to life through their professional and personal experiences.) Students, as a result of the extra attention, are more confident, exhibit better manners, and become more comfortable around other generations.
S.A.G.E. places hundreds of senior volunteers in schools in Bucks and Montgomery counties, and they impact thousands of children. Now, the nonprofit is looking to expand its reach.
To help with its plans for growth, S.A.G.E. contracted with the Pennsylvania Association of Nonprofit Organizations (PANO), which assigned Bob Madonna, one of its certified consultants, to work with Katz and S.A.G.E.’s board of directors.
Madonna is the managing partner of Diversified Services LLC — which provides advisory, training, and coaching services for businesses, nonprofits, and individuals — and the former CEO of Surrey Services for Seniors. A Devon-based nonprofit, Surrey helps older adults live with independence and dignity and continue as engaged members of the community.
“S.A.G.E. is a program that could be in every school in the area,” Madonna said. “I saw first-hand what volunteering can do for an older adult in terms of enjoying the satisfaction of making a difference in the community.”
According to Madonna, one of the key requirements for growth is board expansion and enlisting volunteers to work on several key committees: Finance, Development, Community Outreach, Operations, etc.
To learn more about Senior Adults for Greater Education and its plans for growth, contact Beryl Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org or Bob Madonna at email@example.com.