It was in 1977 that the Retired Senior Volunteer Program was started in Kansas City, Kan., under the sponsorship of the United Way of Wyandotte County.
Today RSVP continues to the serve our community. Currently there are over 225 seniors enrolled in RSVP. They volunteer at approximately 25 nonprofit settings in Wyandotte County.
The settings include but are not limited to health care settings, schools, libraries, food pantries, museums, and sewing groups. Volunteers serve on boards, tutor children, edit newsletters, answer the phone, greet clients, make quilts, read to children, and educate museum goers, among other things. This volunteer work is valued at over $830,000. That is quite a contribution to this community.
How can you be part of this energetic group and contribute in a meaningful way to the community? You can enroll in RSVP, a program of the United Way of Wyandotte County. The catch is that you must be at least 55 years of age. RSVP values the knowledge and experience of the more mature. The benefits of becoming an RSVP member include an informative quarterly newsletter, updates on volunteer opportunities, limited mileage reimbursement, an invitation to the annual appreciation lunch, quarterly coffees where members can meet one another and share experiences, and the satisfaction of knowing that you are making a difference in your community.
RSVP is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Nationwide the focus is on making an effect on the community through volunteering.
Locally, the RSVP is focused in three areas of need. The first is “aging in place,” helping seniors stay in their own homes. Volunteers provide companionship or provide transportation for errands or medical appointments to frail seniors or the disabled.
The second area is hunger. Here volunteers support efforts to feed the hungry through work with local food pantries. Volunteers may pick up items for the pantry, help stock and maintain the pantry, serve clients, or provide administrative support.
The third area is education. Children need good role models and a strong educational foundation to be successful. RSVP volunteers serve as mentors and tutors in a variety of settings and programs in the community, being that significant role model or that affirming tutor for children.
If you want to find out more about how you can enroll in RSVP, contact Emily at 913-371-3674, Ext. 1321 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diane Hentges is director of the Volunteer Center at the United Way of Wyandotte County.