Scottsbluff – United Way of Western Nebraska announced today that it has received an AmeriCorps Seniors demonstration grant of $299,158 from the AmeriCorps federal agency to support 320 volunteers serving in Scotts Bluff County. The grant will expand United Way of Western Nebraska’s volunteer presence in the area, where United Way has been providing service opportunities since 1945.

United Way of Western Nebraska in partnership with the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center will work to provide volunteer opportunities in the Scotts Bluff County Area. Shanna Halstead, current Executive Director of the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center, will serve as the United Way AmeriCorps Seniors Director.

“United Way is grateful for the AmeriCorps Seniors funding award and the opportunity to partner with the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center to support and provide expanded volunteer service in the Scotts Bluff Area,” noted Karen Benzel, United Way of Western Nebraska Executive Director. “United Way has a longstanding history of supporting our partner agencies and this grant award will allow United Way in partnership with the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center to serve the community through direct volunteerism focused on health, education and financial stability.”

With this new funding, United Way of Western Nebraska in partnership with the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center will leverage the skills and experience of seniors in Scotts Bluff County with volunteer activities that focus on health, education and financial stability. These AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers will serve at Shopping for Seniors, Meals on Wheels, home delivered commodities and continue to meet the needs of the community. 

Shanna Halstead remarked, “The Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center is excited for the opportunity to work in partnership with United Way of Western Nebraska through the AmeriCorps Seniors demonstration grant. It is because of our dedicated volunteers that we are able to provide great services and care for folks through Meals-on-Wheels, Shopping for Seniors, Home Delivered Commodities and other programs. With the benefits of the AmeriCorps grant, we will continue providing needed services, making our community stronger by focusing on health, education and financial stability. It is an honor and privilege to care for those in need in our community. A life well lived is in the service of others and our volunteers demonstrate this daily.”

Volunteers are welcome to call the United Way office at 308-635-2522 or the Scotts Bluff County Volunteer phone at 308-637-3736 to learn how they can sign up to become an AmeriCorps Seniors volunteer and give back to their community through volunteerism. The AmeriCorps Seniors program is for individuals 55 and older. Scotts Bluff County Volunteer Center will continue to serve volunteers of all ages.  

These new grant funds are made possible from the historic $1 billion investment in AmeriCorps through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to provide immediate relief from the pandemic, with a specific focus on support for underserved and disproportionately impacted communities. For the past year, thousands of AmeriCorps members and AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers across all 50 states and U.S. territories have continued their service, quickly adapting to meet the changing needs caused by the pandemic. The dedicated volunteers of AmeriCorps Seniors have persisted to support communities as they respond and recover from the impact of

COVID-19, developing new ways to deliver the same services to keep both themselves and those they serve safe. 

AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers stay healthy and active through service, improving their own lives as they improve the lives of others. A growing body of research affirms the numerous mental and physical health benefits of volunteering, including lower mortality rates, decreased rates of depression, and increased strength and energy. Findings from a recent agency-sponsored study show that AmeriCorps Seniors volunteers serving with the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion programs report feeling less depressed and isolated, along with stable or improved health scores.   

Today, AmeriCorps Seniors engages nearly 200,000 older Americans in service at approximately 30,000 locations across the United States and territories through its Foster Grandparent, Senior Companion, and RSVP programs. 

United Way of Western Nebraska is a nonprofit organization that unites people and resources to build a stronger, healthier and more compassionate community. They support 27 local nonprofit agencies in the areas of education, health and financial stability. They have been reinvesting in Western Nebraska since their inception in 1945. For more information, visit www.uwwn.org.