Project V.I.E.: Volunteers Intervening for Equity

a national program to train retired persons as advocates for others


Various Leagues under the auspices of The Association of Junior Leagues International, Inc.

Issue Area(s): voluntarism, social advocacy, the elderly

Metric of Success (if quantifiable/available):  V.I.E. (“Volunteers Intervening for Equity”) was the recipient of a commendation from the White House in 1978 and was endorsed by the American Association of Retired Persons and The National Voluntary Organization for Independent Living for the Aging. Six hundred men and women, ages 55 to 89, were trained in the program. First Lady Rosalyn Carter saluted the program’s success.


In 1977, The Association of Junior Leagues International initiated a three-year demonstration project to tap into the talent and resources of the retired population just as the first Baby Boomers were hitting their stride. Based on the belief that elders could serve as agents of constructive community change (rather than being dismissed as passive recipients of social services), the project anticipated societal trends—the aging of the population—instead of reacting to a problem already at its peak. In addition to countering the disuse of older persons, the program provided a mechanism for training them to use their talents and education to help others in obtaining social security benefits, mental health services, and foster care, among other benefits. The program was made possible by a $790,000 grant from the Edna McConnell Clark Foundation.

Community Partners

  • Volunteer organizations
  • Public agencies
  • Local and national businesses including General Mills, Pillsbury, First Bank, 3M, and Honeywell, Inc., among others
  • Local community partners

How it works

Participating Junior Leagues recruited, organized and trained older volunteers with a wide range of skills and life experiences to take on a variety of challenging assignments from counseling young people in the criminal justice system to helping older people obtain rights and benefits. More than 600 men and women, ages 55 to 89, served as intermediaries for individuals not able to obtain their entitlements, such as Social Security benefits, mental health services, and foster care.

What’s the impact?

Working in a collaborative style with its community partners and with very low budgets and donated office equipment and space, V.I.E. members won passage of model state legislation, designed and marketed a new employee insurance prototype, initiated important programs at major corporations, effected changes in Medicare practices, established a model county-wide coordinating agency, and helped settle claims totaling thousands of dollars for individual clients.

In 1985, the Corporate Retiree Volunteer Programs conference, held in Minneapolis, emphasized the importance of such programs.