RETIRED AND SENIOR VOLUNTEER PROGRAM (RSVP)
Welcome to RSVP
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) connects Americans aged 55 and over with volunteer service opportunities that meet their personal interests and make a difference in their communities. RSVP volunteers make significant contributions by putting their best talents to work as leaders, entrepreneurs, organizers, builders, caregivers, and mentors. Their knowledge, skills, and life experience are of immeasurable value to the organizations and people they touch.
RSVP was launched in the spring of 1971 under auspices of the Administration on Aging. In July of the same year, RSVP was transferred to AoA to ACTION (domestic volunteer program). Eleven projects were started in the summer of 1971. In October of 1993, the name was changed to Retired & Senior Volunteer Program. ACTION was merged into the Corporation for National and Community Service. RSVP became part of the National Senior Service Corp under the Corporation for National and Community Service. The RSVP Program has been sponsored locally by C.E.F.S. Economic Opportunity Corporation since 1974. In addition to federal funding, the program also receives funds from the Illinois Department on Aging, United Way, and other local donations.
What are the requirements to register with RSVP?
The volunteer must be 55 years of age or older. There is no special education or skill required, just a sincere desire to be of useful service to the community and a commitment to serve neighbors and friends. Each volunteer is asked to complete an enrollment record. Each month a simple form to record the number of hours served by the volunteer is signed and turned in to the RSVP Coordinator. Volunteers choose how and where they want to serve.
Will the volunteer be taking a job from someone?
No, volunteer stations are designed to serve public service agencies, non-profit organizations, and/or institutions which provide health care or related services to the elderly, the disadvantaged, and the handicapped.
Are there benefits with RSVP?
Yes, volunteers are covered under an accident insurance plan while they are doing their volunteer work. Insurance coverage includes use of the volunteers automobile in going to and from the work sites and/or during the provision of services. Accident insurance, personal liability, and excess automobile insurance are provided at no cost to the volunteer. Also, a special recognition event is planned each year to recognize all volunteers for their community service.
Contributions Made by the RSVP Program
RSVP members in Clay, Effingham, Moultrie, and Shelby counties serve their communities in a myriad of ways. Schools in each county use volunteers to assist with reading activities, writing letters (pencil pals), mentoring students, and helping in school libraries. These inter-generational opportunities make a difference in the lives of students who need additional reinforcement with their education and are very rewarding to the volunteers as well. Also, special school programs and events such as Grandparents Day activities offer other unique opportunities in which volunteers share their life with a child and help bridge the generation gap prevalent in society today.
RSVP volunteers make and distribute items for low-income and at-risk people in the area. They make items for young children such as quilts to use in preschool classrooms. Other items include book bags, painting shirts, and specialty items as requested. In addition, lap robes are made for elderly residents in each of the counties. These are available through the local C.E.F.S. Outreach Offices, veteran's agencies, county health departments, nursing homes, and other community service agencies that serve handicapped, disabled, and needy persons upon request. Afghans, lap robes, wheel chair/walker caddies and other comfort items are made and provided for the veteran hospitals at Danville and Marion each year.
Visiting and assisting elderly residents in nursing homes and healthcare facilities is another community service activity. RSVP members talk with residents, assist them in writing letters, read to them, and listen to their concerns. Programs such as The Friendly Visiting Program and The Telecall Program provide support services and help ensure safety of individuals who wish to remain living independently in their homes as long as possible.
Other services that volunteers assist with include senior nutrition services, management of food pantries, operation of thrift stores, and provision of transportation. Volunteers perform many volunteer roles including helping organize food drives, sort and repair items for thrift shops, transport seniors to medical appointments, assist with blood mobiles, assist with cancer drives and flu clinics, and promote special events and activities.
For further information call 217-342-2193, ext 135 or contact the CEFS County Outreach Office in your county.
Make a donation to the C.E.F.S. RSVP Program