Two U.S. senators have introduced legislation to ensure that older adults can continue to volunteer during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Senior Corps Distance Volunteering Act, introduced by Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) and Sen. Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA), aims to allow older adults “to safely connect remotely to volunteer and community engagement opportunities.”

Senior Corps is a network of national service programs for Americans aged 55 or more years. Volunteers address elder care, academic tutoring and mentoring, disaster relief support and more.

“National service and volunteer programs represent some of the best of our country, and older Americans play a huge role by volunteering through Senior Corps,” Klobuchar said. “This legislation would help ensure that seniors can remain engaged and connected to their communities through volunteer service without risking their health during the pandemic.”

Specifically, the legislation would provide $5 million for the Corporation for National and Community Service, which manages the Senior Corps program, to create an online platform to facilitate programs during the pandemic through distance volunteering. 

The bill is endorsed by AARP and Volunteers of American Minnesota and Wisconsin. In April, Klobuchar and Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the Pandemic Response and Opportunity Through National Service Act that multiplies the number of Americans who can serve each year through AmeriCorps.

A study recently published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine found that volunteering more than 100 hours annually provides health benefits for adults aged 50 or more years, including a 44% lower risk for mortality and a 17% reduced risk of impaired physical function compared to those who did not volunteer.