The University of Maine Center on Aging sponsors the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program which recruits and places individuals age 55 and older in meaningful volunteer service where they can invest their skills and life experiences to make a difference for generations in eastern Maine by responding to community needs assisting children, seniors, and veterans. RSVP is one of three programs which make up the largest group of senior volunteers in the country known as the National Senior Service Corps.
During his eight years with us, Fred Otto was a driver for the Orono Health Association and a meal delivery driver for Eastern Area Agency on Aging. In September of 2014, Fred joined the steering committee for our new STEM project. Much of his involvement centered on the creation of unique activities for learning modules that volunteers can take to the schools and after-school programs to engage K-6 children in order to stimulate their interest in science and math.
Roots for STEM was a natural fit for Fred! Fred’s parents both had chemistry degrees, so science and math were important aspects of Fred’s early years. He taught physics at Colby College and Maine Maritime Academy. Fred also taught electrical engineering at the UMO, as well as physics and trigonometry at Husson College. Fred’s teaching career, along with his years of experience as a scout troop leader, gave him a broad perspective on our STEM program. At age 82, Fred is very young at heart, and volunteering to support “Roots for STEM” feeds that part of him. He jumped into this project with both feet developing learning modules, doing demonstrations for the steering committee (in full costume at times), and making unique contraptions for activities and experiments. When asked what his volunteering with RSVP meant to him, he replied simply, “I am just glad I can help.” Fred has also expressed to RSVP staff how important it is for him to keep active physically and mentally. He loves to be challenged!