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.
This month, RSVP of Clearfield County would like to acquaint the public with the program itself and the national service days for which the program and its volunteers participate. RSVP is a volunteer referral service designed to find meaningful and rewarding volunteer opportunities for people 55 and over and to assist local agencies in meeting basic human needs.
From its original 11 pilot projects that started in 1971, RSVP has expanded nationally to 685 projects. Twenty-seven of these projects are in Pennsylvania with more than 17,000 volunteers. In 1973, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Clearfield County was established under the sponsorship of the Clearfield County Board of Assistance. In 1989, the CBA discontinued their sponsorship and the Clearfield County Area Agency on Aging Inc. took over the sponsorship of the RSVP program. From less than 50 volunteers in 1973, the program has grown to approximately 800 volunteers in 2013. These volunteers donated more than 73,000 hours of service for Fiscal Year 2011-2012.
The RSVP in Clearfield County operates with funding from the Corporation for National and Community Service and the CCAAA. Contributions from the Clearfield Area and DuBois Area United Way agencies, individual contributions, memorials, and various fund raising activities also contribute to provide the 30 percent local match for the federal funding. The main fundraiser for the RSVP project is the annual Pancake and Sausage Breakfast held in March. RSVP staff, Advisory Council members and volunteers man the griddles, serve the meals, and deliver meals to area businesses. The Clearfield County Conservation District sends their staff to volunteer every year and this year, the kitchen pancake flippers were from CNB. Their community support is very much appreciated.
RSVP focuses on the needs of the retired and senior volunteers to maintain active and significant community involvement, as well as, meeting the basic human needs of the community and organizations for which the volunteers provide assistance. These volunteers form a vast reservoir of skills, talents, and interests.
Volunteers registered with RSVP of Clearfield County are a very diverse group. The age of the volunteers range from 55 (which is the minimum age allowed) to 97 years old. The range of volunteer opportunities calls for people from every background. Everyone has something to offer. The individual chooses how and where they want to serve. Volunteers may continue to do the type of work they enjoyed earlier in life or may choose to do something completely different. The volunteer also decides on the amount of time to donate. Some volunteers may only serve one hour per week while others may serve 100 hours a month. All are welcome in the RSVP program.
RSVP volunteers are placed at stations throughout Clearfield County. An RSVP station is defined as a public agency, private non-profit organization, or proprietary healthcare agency that requests and receives volunteers. A Memorandum of Understanding must be signed and on file in the RSVP office for us to place volunteers at a station. Currently, RSVP has more than 70 stations in the county. To obtain an RSVP volunteer, the organization must contact RSVP and provide a description of the work to be done, the skills a volunteer will need, and other job-related specifications. To assure compatibility between the station and the volunteer, RSVP staff conducts interviews with potential volunteers. Volunteers are matched with the stations according to the particular skills that are needed and what skills they possess. RSVP provides assistance to both the volunteer and the volunteer station throughout the placement period.
RSVP volunteers make an impact in their communities. Volunteers tutor children in schools, tutor adults to help them obtain their GEDs, visit hospitals and nursing homes, deliver meals to the elderly, help feed the hungry, or help to protect and clean up our environment to name a few. All of the volunteers make a difference in communities.
In addition to recruiting volunteers to assist local non-profit organizations, the RSVP project makes an impact by participating in many national days of service. In January of each year, RSVP partners with RSVP stations, schools, libraries and businesses throughout Clearfield County to hold a food drive for Martin Luther King Jr. Day of Service. This year, about a ton of food, as well as, monetary donations were collected and distributed to 10 local food pantries in the county.
For Make a Difference Day, the fourth Saturday of each October, RSVP has held a “Sock It To Me” campaign. People can buy gently used clothing at various stores in the area, but used socks are usually not donated. For the special day of service, RSVP decided to do a sock drive and distribute the new socks to local sneaker closets, woman’s and men’s shelters, etc. Each year more than 1,000 pair of socks are collected and distributed.
The federal government has now declared September 11 as National Day of Service and Remembrance. The service project for RSVP is to honor individuals who have given their time to serve our country. RSVP staff gathers stories from area veterans to be compiled into a booklet. We have created two booklets so far. Each veteran who submits their story gets a copy of the booklet which can be handed down to future generations. There is so much to learn from the nation’s veterans. Each veteran’s experience is an important part of history and should be told. If you are a veteran who would like to share your military experience, please call the RSVP office and staff would be happy to include your story. If you would like to read our veteran’s story, please visit the CCAAA’s website at ccaaa.net. The booklets can be found on the RSVP section.
MARCH VOLUNTEER CORNER:
ADULT LITERACY: Mid-State Literacy is looking for volunteers to help adults learn basic skills necessary to improve job prospects or prepare for the GED. Maybe some adult learners just need to brush up on necessary skills to be able to function better in life. You do not need to be a teacher to help someone learn basic skills. All training and materials are provided and scheduling is flexible.
SPECIAL PROJECTS: Many non-profit organizations are requesting help with fundraising efforts. This volunteer opportunity would be a one-day-only volunteer position. Many of these organizations have had funding cuts and need to raise funds to continue services. Why not consider helping out? Call our office if you are interested
HOSPITAL VOLUNTEER: Clearfield Hospital and DRMC booth utilize volunteers throughout their facilities. Opportunities include working at information desks, being an escort, assisting with clerical work and in Clearfield Hospital, working in the gift shop. Scheduling is flexible and substitute positions are available.
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.
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 Area and DuBois Area United Way agencies, memorials and contributions.