2017-10-19 / Senior Savvy

Volunteering Keeps Us Young

By Florence Archambault

We seniors are bombarded with advice on how to stay alert in our later years. Eighty-nine-year-old Ed Silveria is an example of how a senior can keep young and sharp through volunteer work.

Ed serves as a Eucharist minister at St. Barnabas Church in Portsmouth and volunteers twice a week at the Portsmouth Senior Center, where he sits on the Board of Directors and acts as their in-house accountant. The activity that keeps him on top of things is his volunteer work with the AARP Foundation Tax Aide program. He has been volunteering with them for almost 34 years.

Bob Lobecker, Newport County district Coordinator, said, "Ed is patient and dependable and we have people coming back because he is there. The amazing thing is that over the years he has progressed from handwritten returns to electronic returns and it hasn't fazed him a bit."

Numbers aren’t new to Ed. He was employed on the Newport Naval Base in the personnel department as an accountant for 25 years, retiring in 1984, and has volunteered in the Tax Aide program since then. He says he was doing tax returns for his coworkers and it seemed like the best fit for him when he was looking for volunteer work. He volunteers as the local coordinator at the Portsmouth Senior Center, scheduling other volunteers, organizing the room, and preparing tax returns himself.

Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 87 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Florence Archambault, of Newport, is 87 years young and well-known for her community volunteerism and teaching and writing family history. Applicants are screened to be sure they have the right documents before they actually see the tax preparer and, Ed said, all he has to do is put the numbers on paper. It seems to me you have to know where to put those figures, and I guess he does.

Workers are required to take a five-day refresher course every year, and then have to pass an exam in order to qualify. Ed continues to pass it.

Ed resides in Portsmouth with his wife of 63 years, Mary, and is the father of four, two daughters and two sons., the grandfather of six, and the great-grandfather of four. Three of his children live in Portsmouth and one in Middletown, so they are a very close family. For example, every Monday night is Family night at Ed’s home, and his son, Paul, cooks for everyone who is able to attend and also cleans up afterwards. What a wonderful tradition.

For fun, Ed does “a lot of reading. I also participate in the programs at the Senior Center and my wife and I go on bus trips they organize. I also play cards at the center every Wednesday night.” He seems pretty healthy, though he has had bypass surgery. But that hasn’t slowed him down.

The AARP Foundation Tax-Aid program is gearing up to offer free assistance for filling out tax forms for taxpayers with low to moderate income. This year, nearly 35,000 volunteers helped about 2.5 million taxpayers file their returns at more than 5,000 sites nationwide.

If you want to take advantage of the program to have your taxes prepared, there will be locations at all of the Senior Centers on the island. Watch your Center’s newsletters and the newspapers for times and how to make an appointment.

Ed says, “I know that some clients may not be happy with how their returns turn out, but they are happy that their taxes are done, and I am happy to help them. It gives me great satisfaction.”

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