Here some statistics about RSVP of Central Kansas from this past year:
• Number of volunteers – 487
• Number of hours volunteered – 35,627
• Number of volunteer stations – 37
The RSVP of Central Kansas’ annual Volunteer Recognition Banquet last Thursday night was a pep rally of sorts.
It was a time to say “thanks” to the RSVP of Central Kansas volunteers, as well as a chance to remind those volunteers that what they do is important.
“Often we set out to make a difference in the lives of others only to discover we have made a difference to our own,” RSVP of Central Kansas Director Linn Hogg said. “That is really what the heart of RSVP is.”
She addressed local RSVP members and guests gathered in the Barton Community College Student Union for the event with the theme “It’s all about ‘U’ the VolUnteer.”
“You volunteers have filled a community need such as food insecurity, medical transportation, financial insecurity, insurance education, community education, health needs, disaster relief and more,” she said. “But in doing so you fulfilled your own need.”
The proof is in the numbers, she said.
• 76 percent of seniors who volunteered in the last 12 months say that volunteering has made them feel healthier.
• 94 percent of seniors in the last 12 months say that volunteering improves their mood.
• 95 percent say they are helping to make their community a better place.
• 96 percent say that volunteering enriches their sense of purpose in life.
• 80 percent of the people who have volunteered in the past 12 months say that they feel they have control over their health.
• 78 percent of senior volunteers say that volunteering lowers their stress levels.
The evening also included an award to Kathy and Richard Ahlvers for their 20 years of dedication to the AARP Tax Preparation program. Kathy has served as the local coordinator for that period, and her husband has worked with the program during that she amount of time.
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“These statistics tell us what many of us know already,” Hogg said. “Our volunteers are healthier, happier and living longer, better lives because of volunteering. Volunteering teaches us to be grateful for the things you take for granted in life and widens your perspective on how lucky you are to be you.”
She cited a poem by Linda Ellis, “The Dash.” :
“I read of a man who stood to speak at a funeral of a friend. He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning ... to the end. He noted that first came the date of birth and then spoke of the following date with tears, but said what mattered most of all was the dash between her years,” the poem reads.
“So, how are you living your dash?” Hogg said.
She called attention to the myriad programs and sites where RSVP volunteers make a difference. The signature programs include non-emergency medical transportation, Medicare counseling, AARP tax preparation, Meals On Wheels, disaster relief and the newest program, Community Senior Food Boxes.
However, Hogg said it is not enough to just volunteer. Word about the services provided must be spread.
“The next steps for our volunteer program is to tell people who you are,” she said. “You are Senior Corps, one of the strongest volunteer organizations on the planet. Do you tell people that you are a volunteer with RSVP that volunteers at such and such a place? We can’t continue the good work we do if you don’t help people recognize our name.”
Sponsored by Barton Community College, RSVP of Central Kansas covers Barton and Pawnee counties. Funding comes from the Corporation for National and Community Service via Senior Corps (which also includes the Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions programs).
Around nationally since 1971, RSVP is open to all people age 55 and over.
Adding to the RSVP volunteer force is the Volunteers In Action group which is for any person under the age of 55. This group is in part funded by monies received from United Way of Central Kansas and the RSVP Thrift Store in Hoisington.