Cynthia Schuetz: RIP RSVP; you’ll be missed
December 25, 2017
As the RSVP advisory council chair for several years, I am, of course, saddened that Agency on Aging/Area 4 has decided to discontinue this valuable community asset.
While the article in the Dec. 7 edition of The Union focused on some of the services RSVP provides, it didn't give the whole picture.
In addition to carefully matching adults, including those under 55, to volunteer positions that best suit their talents and interests, RSVP has worked with important local resources to help insure their success.
The Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program and the AAA Roadwise Driver program for seniors, for example, all have relied on RSVP to assist them in getting the word out about their important services and offer an easy way for people to sign up for their offerings.
The Falls Prevention Coalition, which I coordinated for a decade, counted on RSVP to sign up attendees to our annual community event and perform other invaluable functions, such as duplicating and collating our educational materials. In addition, RSVP was often who seniors called when they had questions about almost anything related to community resources.
The telephone reassurance program, mentioned in the article, has a group of RSVP volunteers who are deeply committed to making certain that the homebound seniors they call are not just safe, but feel they have a friend on the other end of the line. In some cases, they may be the only contact a person may have that day and have come to rely on the volunteers to keep them connected. Those calls are also a godsend for family members who may not live close or who are traveling. They can be reassured that someone cares about their loved one and, if an emergency arises, will handle the situation.
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I also would be remiss if I didn't single out Sara Morrison, RSVP's longtime project director (surprisingly the article did not mention her). I have worked alongside Sara for many years as an advisory council member. Her vision to expand the role of the organization in order to better serve seniors has been instrumental in making RSVP an important resource, and her dedication to the program has been exemplary.
In addition, through the years RSVP has had wonderful volunteer coordinators who spend countless hours helping people who wish to volunteer find just the right fit. For the past few years, Cory Azbill has ably filled that critical role, including making sure the volunteer positions are published by The Union and online.
I believe RSVP's demise is a real loss to our community. Every year for the last 15, I have attended RSVP's Volunteer Recognition Luncheon, a celebration of the volunteers and the many, many organizations that they serve.
Volunteering in Nevada County will of course continue — it's a community value. But I can't help but think that the continuity and the cohesiveness that RSVP has provided will be hard to duplicate.
Cynthia Schuetz lives in Nevada County.
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