United Way Suncoast needs volunteers to help Tampa Bay area charities hurt by the pandemic

Senior volunteers are a key part to the comeback
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Posted at 4:25 AM, Apr 22, 2021

TAMPA, Fla. — Ernest Walker is happy to help again.

The 71-year-old volunteer is part of Seniors in Service, a nonprofit of 55-and-older do-gooders.

"I like to feel helpful in more than just a random way," says Walker. "I like to be helpful in an organized effective way."

Today, Walker and his fellow Seniors in Service are beautifying the grounds of Tampa's Franciscan Center, a gorgeous spiritual retreat on the Hillsborough River.

The organized, effective event is part of the United Way Suncoast's Week of Caring, an all-hands-on-deck call for volunteers, and donations, to buoy nonprofits and charities in Tampa Bay.

The pandemic did a number on local volunteerism, especially the senior contingent.

"Since last summer, our volunteers have dropped 50%," says Ernest Hooper, United Way Suncoast's VP of communications.

The hope, like so many other facets of life, is that volunteer numbers rise as the world gets smarter and safer dealing with Covid.

Seeing the Seniors in Service working away at the Franciscan Center definitely lifted spirits.

With a smile, Hooper says, "At United Way Suncoast, we have a saying: United we rise, united we win. That's all I'm saying."

For volunteer opportunities through United Way Suncoast, click here.