he Retired and Senior Volunteer Program offers many services, and one of the services they offer is transportation for out-of-town medical appointments.
There is a five ride a month limit, or more on a case-by-case basis. Riders are asked to contribute gas money if they can, said Donna Baugh, director of RSVP. Riders will be taken even if they can’t pay because various agencies in the county help fund the service.
"People call us and tell us where they have to go," she said. "We have a very dedicated group of volunteer drivers. We reimburse them the cost of fuel."
The service is limited to where the volunteers are willing to drive in one day. Baugh said they probably would have trouble getting a driver to drive to Kansas City, but they often take riders to Salina, Hutchinson, Hays, and Wichita.
"They (volunteers) are very faithful," she said. "They love to help."
The volunteers are all seniors, and they provided 446 rides in 2011. The program is open to individuals in Barton County only. They also have a wheel chair accessible van available for appointments.
Baugh added that if the individual has another way to go, they need to take it. For instance, Medicaid recipients receive free transportation to appointments and they should use that.
RSVP has recently implemented a Talk, Listen, Care program where a volunteer calls a home bound person daily at an agreed time to make sure they are okay. If the person does not answer, the volunteer implements a previously agreed upon plan where someone can check on them.
Another program RSVP coordinates is providing newborn babies with a cap. "We have a loyal group of ladies" who knit a cap for the newborns, said Baugh. They also make lap robes for nursing home and assisted living patients.
Finally, the last in-house program they coordinate is the Meals on Wheels program in Great Bend, Ellinwood and Hoisington.
RSVP is a free membership program for individuals over age 55. If you sign up to be a member, you receive additional accident and liability insurance while on a volunteer job. RSVP also acts as a clearinghouse for any volunteer opportunity in the county, and members report volunteer hours.
They have volunteers at the Food Bank, in schools, the Kansas Wetlands Education Center, Head Start and more.
"Our goal is to meet unmet needs in the community at a time when local agencies have huge cuts to budget," said Donna Baugh, director. "Volunteers can really make a difference.
In addition, RSVP has begun expanding into Pawnee County and has recently signed up its first member.