CLEARFIELD – For its federal grant, the RSVP of Clearfield County is required to place 50 percent of its volunteers in positions that address a community need and where it can be documented that the volunteers’ work has a high impact on the community and the people they are helping. The need to improve low reading levels and literacy rates among school-aged children are two of the many community needs that RSVP volunteers help to address through its school tutoring program.
Studies have shown that third-graders who are reading below grade level have a strong likelihood of not graduating from high school. Schools are able to identify students who need extra help with reading and math. In doing so, getting these students this extra help is one way to help prevent them from becoming “at risk” of dropping out of school.
In the first four years of school, we learn to read; for the rest of the school years, we read to learn. Positive reinforcement and help from mature, caring adults such as RSVP volunteers increase a child’s self-esteem and motivation to excel in school.
RSVP volunteers are perfect partners for the schools. In Clearfield County schools, RSVP volunteers assist students in various literacy activities. Activities include
reading out loud to and with the students, helping students learn the alphabet and the sounds that letters make, providing paired readings, using flash cards, or assisting with creative thinking and writing exercises or games.
Individuals do not need a teaching degree to volunteer in the schools. They do not replace the teacher. Volunteers serve as mentors, are positive role models, and give special attention and encouragement to the children. The individual attention really makes a difference in the personal and educational lives of the children. Volunteers can help provide children with the skills that they will use throughout their lifetime.
There is no question that one-on-one tutoring is a highly effective tool in literacy development. RSVP volunteers help children master skills and receive the encouragement needed to learn. One of the greatest benefits to the volunteer is the satisfaction of knowing they are leaving a legacy of service to the children, the schools, and the community.
RSVP volunteers have been making a difference at Moshannon Valley Elementary School since 2005. Carol DelPonte, reading specialist for the school, had this to say about the volunteers and the program, “We are very fortunate to have the RSVP volunteers work with us. You can see the difference with the students who work with volunteers. Many of our teachers request volunteers to work one-on-one with the students.”
If you are 55 years of age or older, have the desire to connect with others, to get involved for social reasons, want to feel useful and valuable, or have too much time on your hands, why not consider becoming a volunteer in our schools? Everyone wins with this volunteer opportunity! RSVP volunteers serve in the Harmony Elementary School, Juniata Elementary School, Luthersburg Elementary School, Moshannon Valley Elementary School, North Lincoln Elementary School, Oklahoma Elementary School, Wasson Elementary School, and West Branch Elementary Schools.
SEPTEMBER VOLUNTEER CORNER:
FOOD PANTRY: If you live in the Clearfield or Curwensville area, why not consider volunteering some time at one of the food pantries in your area? Duties would include assisting with inventory, stocking shelves, registration of participants, packing food, and with the distribution. Scheduling is flexible and all training is provided.
HOSPICE VOLUNTEER: Are you compassionate, caring, and able to deal with a challenge? Clearfield Hospital Hospice is offering a very rewarding and challenging volunteer position that you may be interested in. Simply put, Hospice volunteers take care of whatever needs done. They may hold a hand and listen, walk a dog, or write a letter. Be a special volunteer for Hospice. All training is provided, so call the RSVP office today!
AMERICAN RED CROSS – PA HEARTLAND CHAPTER: Do you enjoy doing clerical duties? Maybe answering the telephone, filing or entering data? The American Red Cross, located in DuBois is looking for some clerical help. Scheduling is flexible and all training is provided.
SPECIAL PROJECTS: Do you want to volunteer but not be committed to a long-term assignment? RSVP has special projects that are seasonal but still impact the community in a positive way. Some examples are sewing quilts for children who are in traumatic situations, preparing special mailings for organizations, or singing and visiting in a local nursing/personal care home. Your favorite organization or nursing/personal care home always can use some help with special projects.
If you are interested in any of the above volunteer opportunities or would like to learn more about RSVP, please call RSVP at 814-765-2226 or 1-800-225-8571 or check out the program online and select Community Life, then Volunteering, and then RSVP.
RSVP is sponsored and partially funded by the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging, Inc. Additional funding is provided by the Corporation for National and Community Service, the Clearfield and DuBois United Way agencies, memorials and contributions.
Editor’s Note: The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is a referral service designed to place volunteers in non-profit organizations where their knowledge and skills positively impact the community and individuals served. The following article is part of a monthly series by RSVP highlighting the community based involvement and service of RSVP volunteers.