Chautauqua County RSVP Honors Volunteers

Just like the Beatles song cries, “everybody needs somebody” and we do “get by with a little help from our friends.” This year RSVP again served a luncheon to the delight of the volunteers. The meal was possible with “a little help from our friends” – Harold E. and Elizabeth Adams Johnson Fund of the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation as a major sponsor as well as many other community partners.

RSVP was pleased as more friends arrived, and gave us “a little more help.” Elected officials and friends of RSVP joined in to help as “celebrity waiters” to serve the volunteers. The waiters included: Tom Holt, president/CEO of Lutheran; Andy Goodell, state Assemblyman 150th District; Jacqueline Chiarot, representing Tom Reed, U.S. Congressman 23rd District; Lisa Vanstrom, representing Cathy Young, state Senator 57th District; Lisa Lynde, Chautauqua Region Community Foundation; and Joel Gaden and Joanne E. Nelson, present and past president respectively of RSVP’s advisory council.

“Heartprints” was the day’s theme, based on the children’s book by P.K. Hallinan.

Accomplishments, outcomes and performance measurements from our last completed grant year were shared with the volunteers to help remind them of all the good work they do.

A few countywide accomplishments achieved from April 1, 2012, to March 31, 2013:

Adult Day Care: eight volunteers served 771 hours providing one-to-one attention to clients. Eighty percent of the clients were reported more relaxed and comfortable in the day care setting.

Medical Transportation: 29 volunteers transported 1,124 clients to medical appointment outside Chautauqua County enabling them to improve or maintain their health status.

Soup Kitchens/Food Pantries: 173 volunteers served 14,384 hours serving at 3 soup kitchens and 13 food pantries. Ninety-three percent of the guests reported they were able to feed their families due to the food they either consumed or received at these sites.

Meals on Wheels: 40 volunteers served 3,080 hours and delivered nutritionally balance meals daily to seniors or “at-risk” populations (those isolated or living alone and unable to prepared their own meals). Seventy-five percent of the client reported they are able to remain living independently within their own homes because of this service.

Free Tax Counseling: 12 trained and tested volunteers prepared tax claims for 421 seniors and low to moderate income families free of charge. One hundred percent reported having a free tax service permitted them to spend funds on other necessary items.

Letters of Commendation were presented to those reaching milestones in service from Congressman Reed, Assemblyman Goodell, state Sen. Young, and Chautauqua County Executive Greg Edwards.

RSVP has 31 volunteers having earned the Presidential Volunteer Lifetime Service Award and this year two new names were added to this prestigious honor – Dan Girts and Joyce Shelters. Those achieving this award have served over 4,000 hours during their lifetime at an accredited volunteer agency. The amount of 4,000 hours is equivalent to working two years full-time. Both Girts and Shelters have served an equivalent of two years of service to our county. Shelters’ primary focus is serving at Chautauqua County Humane Society, while Girts serves as an ombudsman through the Chautauqua County Office for the Aging.

Others receiving special honors were: Izetta Ayling, 25 years of service; Kenneth Kilburn, 25 years of service; Jane Campbell, 20 Years of service; Pauline Cole, 20 Years of service; Grace Kent, 20 Years of service; Nancy Sinatra, 20 Years of service; Alice Stoddard, 20 Years of service; Sally Black, 15 Years of service; Bonnie Engberg, 15 Years of service; Kathleen Stuart, 15 Years of service

RSVP previously this year received additional “help from our friend” at the Chautauqua Region Community Foundation by funding the supplemental insurance coverage for the RSVP volunteers. This coverage is not primary, but offers additional coverage for “out-of-pocket” expenses while volunteers are serving and excess automobile coverage while commuting to and from their volunteer assignments.

Chautauqua County RSVP is a federal program governed by the Corporation for National & Community Service. Its mission is to recruit, place, manage, volunteers aged 55 and older in meaningful service to address the critical needs of our county. Volunteering not only benefits the community, but those choosing to serve reap health benefits such as: volunteers live longer, better social connections, productive activity, more physical activity and more. Call Brenda Weiler at 665-3038 to explore opportunities.