Solomon's senior volunteer bill advances to full House

HARRISBURG, June 13 – Legislation introduced by state Rep. Jared Solomon, D-Phila., to create a new Older Adult Mentor Volunteer Program advanced to the full House of Representatives today. The bill (H.B. 2065) would better enable retired older Pennsylvanians to help middle- and high-school students.

The House Aging and Older Adult Services Committee approved Solomon's bill. The legislation would establish a certified list of retired volunteers who would be willing to share their life lessons, experience and hobbies with junior and high school students interested in enhancing their knowledge and skill sets. Older adults wishing to participate would be required to undergo criminal background checks and any other necessary requirements put forth by their school district.

"The ability to have one list of vetted volunteers shared among Pennsylvania's school districts would allow for an easier, simpler, and more cohesive manner in which to pair a volunteer with a student. By also using existing programs, this list could provide a one-stop shop for any older adult wishing to participate or guidance counselor looking to help a student learn more about a specific topic, trade or hobby of interest," Solomon said.

The list is meant to be unlimited in nature; encompassing a host of interests and lessons, such as:

  • Conversation in a foreign language;
  • Discussing a specific trade, such as woodworking or plumbing;
  • Learning more about a career path, such as spending time with a retired doctor to learn about the medical field, a journalist to learn about the media or an artist to learn about a career in the arts;
  • Learning a new hobby, such as knitting, gardening or playing a musical instrument; or
  • Firsthand information about a historical event from a veteran or a nurse.

Solomon said, "When older Pennsylvanians retire from a life of work, they possess an immense amount of knowledge, experience and lessons that sadly often sits untapped. This bill aims to facilitate an intergenerational exchange of this knowledge to young people in their community. My Older Adult MVP bill does not just connect young and old people together, but it provides retirees with an outlet for their vast experience and young people with a mentor to guide them in a crucial time in their career journey."

Rep. Steve Samuelson, D-Northampton, Democratic chairman of the committee, said, "We believe in giving older adults a chance to share their knowledge with young people, and this program would also give teenagers an opportunity to interact with someone of a different generation."