There were two themes that ran through the RSVP of Central Kansas Volunteer Recognition Banquet Tuesday night – the importance of volunteers and the importance of community.
“We’re trying to fill the un-met needs in our community,” RSVP of Central Kansas Director Linn Hogg said. “I want to thank all of you.”
She addressed those gathered in the Barton Community College Student Union for the annual event.
She ran through a list of successes from the past year. These included 400 volunteers and over 46,000 volunteer hours, the opening of a satellite office in Larned and the expansion of services there, and the purchase of a wheelchair-accessible van.
There were also challenges, she said. Key among these is the need for volunteers, especially for the Meals on Wheels program where there is a waiting list due to the lack of drivers.
Hogg then turned the dias over to the speaker for the evening, United Way of Central Kansas Executive Director Gaila Demel.
Hogg said her organization doesn’t have to hold fundraisers very often to provide funding. “We don’t have to because of United Way.”
“United Way is very big on volunteers,” Demel said. In fact, both RSVP and its Meals on Wheels program are among UWCK’s 22 partner agencies that receive UW funding.
“We’re different than most charitable organizations,” Demel said, adding that 99 percent of what the local campaign earns each year stays in the area. “We are community based.”
She traced the history of the United Way from its 1880s post-Gold Rush-turned bust roots in Colorado to its current presence with 4,000 branches in 46 countries. Started locally in 1963, UWCK now covers Barton and Pawnee counties.
She said UW’s mission is to help volunteer-led non-profits address key problems in their communities. In UWCK’s case, those include education, health and financial stability with programs designed to help kids as well as seniors.
“Our real work is campaigning for our valued community partners,” she said. This means staying in tune with the community’s needs.
But, “the face of volunteerism has changed,” Demel said. Although she finds younger volunteers energetic and inspiring, they have different expectations when it comes to being involved.
Sponsored by Barton Community College, RSVP of Central Kansas covers Barton and Pawnee counties. Hogg thanked the college for its support of the agency.
Funding comes from the Corporation for National and Community Service via Senior Corps (which also includes the Foster Grandparents and Senior Companions programs). They are also in part funded by monies received from UWCK and the RSVP Thrift Store in Hoisington.
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 which is for any person under the age of 55.
Here some statistics about RSVP of Central Kansas from this past year:
• Number of volunteers – 400
• Number of hours volunteered – 46,355
• Number of volunteer stations – 37