Program looking for senior volunteers

Ah, retirement. You planned for it. You looked forward to it. And here it is.

The first time you had that second cup of coffee and had nowhere else to be andhellip; well, it just doesn't get better than that.

After savoring newfound freedom, you have read that book you meant to read, you have done some of the projects left for "later," and you finally took that trip for which you never had enough time.

Now what?

You have tried to re-connect with former co-workers, but they are always busy and some projects are still awaiting your attention. You have a new trip planned for the future, but what about right now? You sense something is missing in your life and realize that you need something satisfying and productive to fill your days between trips and projects.

An answer could be the Retired Senior Volunteer Program or "RSVP". RSVP finds volunteer positions for seniors, age 55 and over, who want to enrich their lives and make a difference in their community.

RSVP is a program offered by the Area 1 Agency on Aging (A1AA) and has a local office in the Del Norte Senior Center serving Del Norte County. The local office has numerous programs available for seniors who want to volunteer their time and skills.

You could be a "senior helping seniors" by volunteering at the Del Norte Senior Center, where there is a great need for help in the kitchen and dining room.

Senior Center Manager Amanda Haney advises that the Senior Center is short four volunteers and will need all the help it can get.

Want to work with children? You can help kids with their reading and writing skills by volunteering in the RSVP Pen Pal Program. Or you can volunteer in the Schools of Hope/United Way program by doing one-on-one tutoring with children in elementary schools.

RSVP also places volunteers with CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate program) where the volunteers work with a child that is part of the court system, making recommendations to the court on the child's behalf.

Del Norte Reads is another program for volunteers who would like to work with adults who have literacy issues.

These are just a few of the opportunities that RSVP offers. New programs are being added that focus on healthy futures and disaster preparedness.

The newest RSVP partnership is the Del Norte Gleaning Project spearheaded by Kelley Nolan. Kelley embraces the "plant an extra row" philosophy of growing extra food for others; but, it can result in "too much of a good thing" - with too many fruits and vegetables to harvest and be consumed by family and close friends.

After reading about the Sonoma Valley Gleaning Project, Kelley jumped into action to start the Del Norte Gleaning Project, where volunteers glean the "extras" from residents' gardens. Volunteers can offer food from their gardens to be gleaned, or volunteers will come to the resident's gardens and glean the produce that would otherwise go to waste.

The volunteers then deliver the produce to the local food banks. Kelley is very excited to head up the project for the next two years.

So now what? You know you need to "get out there" and "do something." You know that volunteering will give you the satisfaction and reward of helping people and your community. Maybe there is a program that will peak your interest? Maybe it's working in one of the above described programs, but if not, RSVP offers many others:

andbull; American Cancer Society

andbull; American Red Cross

andbull; Community Assistance Network

andbull; Crescent City Nursing and Rehabilitation

andbull; Veterans' Services Office

andbull; St. Vincent de Paul

andbull; Habitat for Humanity

andbull; National Redwood Park

andbull; Rural Human Services

andbull; Marine Mammal Center

andbull; Health Insurance Counseling and Advocacy Program (HICAP)

Note: all placements are subject to availability of a position and need of the agency.

It's very easy to become an RSVP volunteer. Just contact me, volunteer services specialist, Sharon Jourden, at 707-464-7876 or in person at the A1AA office at the Del Norte Senior Center, 1765 Northcrest Drive. All that is required is the completion of a simple application and the monthly reporting of your volunteer hours to your site volunteer manager - or individual monthly reporting of your hours if you want reimbursement for mileage.

RSVP offers reimbursement for mileage to and from your volunteer worksite up to $25 a month, or RSVP can provide Dial-a-Ride bus passes for transit to the site.

RSVP provides supplemental liability insurance coverage while performing your volunteer duties and invites all RSVP volunteers to the annual spring Volunteer Recognition Event where you will be acknowledged and thanked for all your many contributions throughout the year.

Some volunteers have been part of the RSVP program for many years. This year's Recognition Event will honor Sharon McKinney, who has reached the milestone of 20 years of volunteerism in RSVP!

Sharon states, "finding volunteer opportunities for transition from work into retirement made life easier and saved my sanity. Volunteering helps anyone in a transition and helps you get acquainted with your new life."