It’s been nearly a year since the world shut down due to COVID-19. But that didn’t mean community needs would be forgotten. In fact, as the needs of our communities rose with the challenges of the pandemic, many stepped up to lend a helping hand.
Among those were volunteers who participate in the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP. A program of Americorps Seniors, RSVP is the nation’s largest volunteer network for people 55 and older. RSVP matches volunteers with local community needs to make an impact where it’s needed most.
COVID-19 changed the way volunteers could operate, especially since they are a vulnerable demographic to the virus. But, that didn’t stop them from finding safe, creative ways to help out.
At VANTAGE, we are so proud of the work our RSVP volunteers continue to do. Here are just a few examples of ways RSVP volunteers have made a difference across Ohio.
The Society for Handicapped Citizens of Medina County, Inc.
The Society for Handicapped Citizens of Medina County, Inc. (The Society) has been providing services to individuals with disabilities and their families since 1953. The agency provides an array of services with an emphasis on helping individuals with disabilities maximize their full potential as members of the community.
VANTAGE RSVP currently has nine volunteers writing to community members with disabilities who are clients to our partner, The Society. The feedback we receive monthly from this group is overwhelmingly positive and, honestly, enough to melt your heart.
Mail time has become their number one focus. The volunteer coordinator at The Society even had to make a schedule of who gets to retrieve mail each afternoon. The fact that they have something to look forward to has been great!
Many of the individuals in the Pen Pal Program have never received mail prior, so to see their faces light up when they open their letters is absolutely heartwarming. You have no idea how much it truly impacts their lives!
When an individual receives mail or a card from their Pen Pal, it brightens not only their day but The Society staff’s day as well. Being able to keep communication with the outside world is important for the individuals they serve – especially during these unprecedented times. Just receiving a card or any form of mail is a reminder that even when outside interaction is not acquirable, there are still ways to develop meaningful relationships with others.
COVID-19 impacted The Society’s ability to do things as they always had, forcing them to think outside the box and use resources never used before. Volunteers have lifted spirits, knowing that someone else beyond their walls cares about The Society as an agency and their clients. VANTAGE RSVP volunteers let The Society know they have support and recognize that what they do has importance and value.
“I know volunteers can choose to give their time and efforts to anyone – but they chose US. Your volunteers are angels in disguise,” said a staff member at The Society.
We are truly proud to partner with The Society and make sure that all members of our community feel heard and loved!
Making the best out of a tough situation in Cincinnati, Ohio
One of our newest RSVP volunteers in Cincinnati, Ohio had reached out after an unexpected early retirement due to the pandemic. He said he had not even fathomed the idea of retiring in his mid-fifties, mostly because he loved his job and the meaning of work.
When COVID hit, and he was disappointed about the retirement. He was frustrated by COVID-19 and losing his job and was feeling quite lonely since he was quarantining home alone for months.
He decided he wanted to do something worthwhile with his newfound time. He has been volunteering with Meals and Wheels delivering meals to local seniors since December through the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
He is also making routine calls to a Telecare client. A program of RSVP, Telecare matches volunteers with elderly homebound individuals. Volunteers provide a friendly phone call and check in on their wellbeing. The Telecare program helps seniors stay connected with the outside world in a time where staying home is necessary.
The RSVP volunteer has mentioned on multiple occasions that he feels like he making a bigger impact and finding more joy out of volunteering than he ever imagined.
Make a difference in your neighborhood
Are you interest in making a difference in your community? RSVP has many safe, remote, and contact-free volunteer opportunities to participate in! It’s a great way to spend extra free time, connect with your community, and find ways to help during these difficult times.
You must be 55 years or older and live in one of the seven counties VANTAGE RSVP serves to participate. By joining RSVP, you also receive benefits as a member such as events (virtual and eventually in person) to connect with other volunteers and free supplemental vehicle insurance.
Contact email@example.com to learn more, or find your county below for a local phone number.
Call 330-618-2955 for:
Call 330-805-1497 for:
Call 330-618-2365 for:
*The information in this article is intended solely to provide general information on matters of interest for the personal use of the reader, who accepts full responsibility for its use. This article should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional legal, medical, or other competent advisors.