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Special to the News
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program; or RSVP, sponsored by Montgomery Area Council on Aging; is a vital part of helping save Coosa County money while also helping to keep retired and senior individuals active in their communities.
The purpose of RSVP is to link the skills, knowledge and experience of a senior volunteer with identified critical needs in the community and to provide rewarding opportunities for seniors. Any person 55 years of age and older who is willing to volunteer on a regular basis is eligible for membership.
The amount of service can vary. The average number of hours served is about four hours per week, and there are no dues or membership fees.
Currently there are 106 volunteers in Coosa County, and they serve in many different areas within the county. Most of the RSVP volunteers serve in the following areas:
- Food support (food drops, food pantries, preparing and delivering meals to food insecure and homebound individuals)
- Disaster services (volunteer fire departments and disaster mitigation)
- Donations management (raising money for nonprofit centers or agencies)
- Companionship and transportation (visiting in person or by phone and transporting individuals to doctor appointments, pharmacy, grocery store, etc.)
- Education and mentoring (working with children, such as tutoring)
- Tax assistance (preparing tax returns)
- Coosa veterans and families (assisting veterans and veteran families with benefits/paperwork and home repairs)
In the last calendar year RSVP volunteers in Coosa County served 3,447 hours at volunteer stations.
If you multiply $28, which is the national value of volunteer service per hour, by the number of hours served last year, you can see that RSVP volunteers saved Coosa County $148,652.
The federal government provides a modest grant of $141,304 that is spread over the 5-county project. MACOA, the Montgomery Area Council on Aging, as RSVP’s sponsoring agency agrees to provide up to 30% matching funds.
These combined funds are very restrictive and can only be used for administrative needs, such as computer or office supplies, phone service and printing. To fully provide funds needed by RSVP staff to function in each county, MACOA must raise 57% of its budget through donations.
There are two primary purposes of RSVP. We recruit volunteers to assist with a specific need in the community, such as preparing disaster kits for seniors. We also serve as a clearing house for volunteers, tracking the hours served by a broad base of RSVP volunteers serving at various agencies throughout the project area we serve.
The volunteer statistics are passed on to RSVP’s federal and state funders, showing them where the volunteers are serving and where the needs are in the service area. Federal and state dollars follow because Congress and the state legislature see that the needs in the counties are being addressed and improved because of RSVP’s volunteers.
Additionally, RSVP seeks to help at-risk youth, keep seniors in their homes, make healthcare a reality for low-income citizens, help keep city streets safe, and feed those who are food insecure.
For more information on RSVP or to sign up to become a volunteer with the organization, contact Carroll Penton, coordinator for Coosa and Montgomery counties, at 256-377-4935 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.