If the Retired Senior Volunteer Program were a jigsaw puzzle, it would be a big one painting a diverse image of the communities it serves.
Picture this: In the past year, 431 RSVP volunteers logged 40,716 hour at 69 volunteer stations in Barton and Pawnee counties. They serve people of all ages through anti-poverty, literacy and health-related programs.
“You are such an important piece of the puzzle,” said RSVP Director Linn Hogg Thursday night. She was addressing the nearly 200 RSVP members and guests gathered in the Barton Community College Student Union for the organization’s annual RSVP volunteer recognition banquet.
“I think its amazing your all here,” she said.
One highlight of the evening was the presentation of the Volunteer of the Year Award and the Volunteer Station of the Year Award. The individual honor went to Joan Hodges for her work with the medial transportation rides and Meals on Wheels programs, and the station honor went to St. Rose Health Center, one of the oldest RSVP posts.
It was an evening to thank the volunteers for all they do. It was also an opportunity to encourage them to mentor future generations to understand the importance of giving back.
“Who will take your place?” Hogg said. It is up to the experienced volunteers to pass their passion on to others.
RSVP has been around for over 30 years, Hogg said. But, “it really seems like a well-kept secret.”
Why? Most volunteers serve selflessly and don’t want any attention, she said.
This is unfortunate. In her year leading the agency, she has seen its impact and now understands how much wisdom the volunteers have to share.
“There is power in numbers,” she said. She wants the RSVP to be the “go-to” agency when someone needs to find volunteer help.
However, Hogg said the word is getting out about RSVP. When collecting door prize items from area businesses, some offered more because of the good work the group is doing.
“Last year, I talked about change,” she said, referring to her assuming the helm at a time when RSVP’s focus was expanding. “But, I have learned the field of volunteerism is an every-changing environment.”
So is the grant and funding world, Hogg said. RSVP is sponsored through BCC, but receives a mixture of private and local governmental money, and federal and state funding.
Through such fundraisers as the RSVP Thrift Shop in Hoisington and the sale of recycled Memorial Day flowers, the agency pays for such events as the annual dinner. But these also help buoy it though uncertain government funding waters.