The volunteer invites other retirees to leave their comfort zones

The volunteer invites other retirees to leave their comfort zones

A 72-year-old Fairfax County resident in August says she had no experience working with children with special needs, but that was something she always wanted to do. He started as a volunteer at the Adaptive Aquatic Center at Fairfax County Park Authority Recreation Center, teaching children on the autism spectrum.

Kozloff was embarrassed about his new role. He said he quickly realized that working with students with special needs requires "tremendous amount of patience". His patience and time paid off when his students started at Providence RECenter, where he volunteered four Sundays in the morning to enjoy the whole pool trail. He also volunteers with Adaptive Aquatics at Spring Hill RECenter on four Sundays afternoons

"The big thing I get out of volunteering is the satisfaction of helping others," he says. "I love helping others, finding out what their goals are and helping them achieve them, be it teaching an autistic kid to swim from side to side of the pool, teaching a stroke who wants to learn to swim again, or helping a kid who wants to swim in the Special Olympics team."

Kozloff joined RSVP-Northern Virginia nearly five years ago and is not only volunteering with multiple RSVP partners, but is also the RSVP Engagement Leader, acting as a nonprofit kind of evangelist, spreading the word about why RSVP is such a great program. "RSVP has a unique approach to new volunteers, helping them find what they want to do, not where we are looking to place them," says Kozloff.

RSVP-Northern Virginia will be hosting a free seminar entitled "The Art of Volunteer Life" on Thursday, December 5th at 2:00 pm at the Red Cross National Capital Region Building near Merrifield. The hour-long event is free and open to the public. www.rsvpnova.org

RSVP, the area's largest network of volunteers for people aged 55 and over, offers free personalized support for seniors and retirees looking for comfortable, social, fun, and meaningful service options in Fairfax County, Arlington County, and Alexandria. .

Kozloff was so successful that the Fairfax Park Authority honored him with an award for volunteering in Adaptive Water (Aquatics) and began to train and mentor other volunteers and began teaching the same class at another county park (Spring Hill), this time helping with a stroke. the victims return to the water.

During his retirement, Kozloff expanded his volunteer portfolio to help local high school students gain financial literacy through another RSVP partner program, Junior Achievement. Many times a month, he visited schools throughout Northern Virginia where he was taught personal finance.

He resumed sailing out of his comfort zone, thinking that the success of teaching swimming could translate into teaching financial literacy. As we all know, it was something that JA had never tried before.

Kozloff's first step was to monitor the special needs class at school. "I wanted to see how I could customize the JA program to their needs," he says.

To develop an effective curriculum for high school students with special needs, Kozloff thought that he should follow the same approach as primary school students who were not special needs children.

It was important for the classes to be interactive, he says. His goal was to teach the concept of business and the role it plays in everyday life. According to him, teaching financial and life skills concepts to students with special needs is a longer process. "It's all about teaching the individual, not the whole class."

After Kozloff's successful teaching of financial literacy at Oakton High School, he expanded the program (now called JA Life Skills Learning) to Falls Church's sleepy Hollow Elementary School (where the JA in a Day program began); Drew Model Elementary School and other high schools and elementary schools in the area.

"Sleepy Holllow's teachers were fantastic," says Kozloff. Now she has volunteered at school for four years through JA. In elementary school, Kozloff teaches students life skills and shows them how to recognize road signs and helps them map where critical places like hospitals are, he said.

Some of Kozloff's Oakton students have continued their special program at George Mason University in Fairfax. Others now have jobs. Kozloff was also asked to be a volunteer swimming coach for the Special Olympics last fall, something he plans to do again this September between coordinating volunteers for the Senior Olympics in Northern Virginia and his other volunteer work.

Kozloff enjoys her role as leader of engagement, working with other volunteers and letting them know how important it is for other people to feel good. The RSVP asks all potential volunteers, "How can we help you find that volunteer opportunity that means something to you?" Says Kozloff.

Kozloff recently told a group of new RSVP recruiters: "What you give back (through volunteering) is 20 times more than what you give." Kozloff asks new volunteers to always act outside their comfort zone.

"It requires an attitude that can be done," says the retired hospital chief executive. "You have to keep on top. You have to focus 100% on what you do and what you can do easily on the fly. Every class, every day is different," Kozloff says.

Those interested in getting more information about RSVP or signing up for an upcoming RSVP information session should contact RSVP-Northern Virginia Volunteer Specialist Shannon White at 703-403-5360 or visit the RSVP website at www. rsvpnova.org.