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RSVP is back and ready to make a difference

Posted: Tuesday, Mar 12th, 2013

Kathy Perry, left, Senior Corp program director with Volunteers of America, and Loretta McDonald, RSVP director, stand in RSVP offices provided free of charge at the Huron Senior Center. PHOTO BY CRYSTAL PUGSLEY/PLAINSMAN

Listen up, volunteers — the RSVP (Retired Senior Volunteer Program) is back in action in Huron thanks to funding through the Volunteers of America based in Watertown.

RSVP is America’s largest volunteer network for people age 55 and over.

The program was forced to close in Huron when a funding crunch prohibited the Huron Area Senior Center from continuing as its financial sponsor.

The newly restructured program, sponsored by Volunteers of America, connects a nine county region in Eastern South Dakota through RSVP.

Loretta McDonald was named RSVP director, and works from an office provided free of charge at the senior center.

“We had a national competition to bring back some of the programs we lost through budget cuts,” said Kathy Perry, Senior Corp program director. “We feel very fortunate that we can bring RSVP back to these nine counties. “The senior center gave us a commitment of space before we even wrote the grant,” Perry added. “We would not be here without the positive response we have received.”

McDonald said they began working in January to compile lists of volunteers and work sites.

“We expect it to be a really good program,” McDonald said. “We’re still getting work sites — we have about 12 and we’re projecting for 60. Right now they’re working at the games (in Huron Arena).”

RSVP is America’s largest volunteer network for people age 55 and over. You join a network of nearly 500,000 volunteers across the country who are tackling tough issues in their communities.

RSVP offers a full range of volunteer opportunities with thousands of local and national organizations. With RSVP, you choose how and where you want to serve. You choose the amount of time you want to give. And you choose whether you want to draw on your skills or develop new ones. In short, you find the opportunity that’s right for you.

You’ll receive pre-service orientation, training from the organization where you serve, and supplemental insurance while on duty.

As a volunteer, you’re not just helping others — you’re helping yourself. Volunteering leads to new discoveries and new friends. Plus, studies show that volunteering helps you live longer and promotes a positive outlook on life.

McDonald expressed gratitude for Volunteers of America providing the funds to keep the program alive in Huron, and for the support shown by the senior center to help.

Volunteers of America is one of the nation’s largest and most comprehensive human services organizations, touching the lives of more than 2 million people each year in hundreds of communities across the United States.

It was founded in 1896 by social reformers Ballington and Maud Booth, who envisioned a movement dedicated to reaching and uplifting the American people and bring them to the knowledge and active service of God.

On behalf of the organization, the Booths pledged to “go wherever we are needed, and do whatever comes to hand. They organized day nurseries and summer camps, provided housing for single men and women, and established the nation’s first halfway houses for released prisoners.

That declaration of service continues to guide Volunteers of America’s outreach efforts today.

This year marks its 117th anniversary, and today their programs reflect the changing times, addressing some of the nation's most pressing and complex needs.

“Our roots are in residential services and youth — we are now an agency from birth to the end of life,” Perry said. “We love the RSVP program. It’s so flexible. We can accommodate different schedules.”

Anyone 55 and over who would like to learn more about opportunities provided through RSVP, or those who would like to schedule volunteers to help at an event or work site, are encouraged to call McDonald at the RSVP office, 554-1400.

For the complete article see the 03-10-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 03-10-2013 paper.

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