RSVP: You’re Invited to Volunteer
- Written by Pat Sicard, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley Volunteer Manager
Whether you would like to share your skills and experience to benefit local nonprofits, wish to make new friends, want to practice skills in preparation for entering the job market, or seek to help an organization that has helped you, volunteering is your ticket to fulfillment. RSVP of the Pioneer Valley is the volunteer connector for adults 55 and older who have a few hours a week or month to give a wide variety of supportive help that will have a powerful impact on the wellbeing of area residents. We offer the options, you make the choice that fits you best, and we facilitate the match.
A few examples of RSVP service include support at food banks and survival centers, helping seniors with bill paying or insurance information, raising funds for special projects, visiting isolated seniors at their homes or in nursing homes, driving seniors to medical appointments, and assisting agencies with special or fund raising events.
RSVP of the Pioneer Valley is the volunteer connector for adults 55 and older who have a few hours a week or month to give a wide variety of supportive help that will have a powerful impact on the wellbeing of area residents.
Franklin County has a variety of interesting volunteer opportunities. At LifePath, this includes data entry, helping clients with bill paying, delivering Meals on Wheels, driving to medical appointments, and visiting residents of local nursing homes. The Erving Senior Center would welcome a volunteer Tai Chi instructor and a graphic artist.
- Written by Ginger Elliott, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley
The Retired Senior and Volunteer Program (RSVP) began as a national program, authorized by Congress and signed into law by President Richard Nixon in 1969, to create opportunities for engagement, activity, and growth for older Americans. It became a presence in Hampshire County in 1973, in Franklin County in 1999, and in Hampden County in 2017. In the course of our 45-year history in the Pioneer Valley, RSVP at different times has functioned as a part of the Hampshire County Action Commission and the United Way. Currently, we are under the umbrella of the Hampshire Council of Governments.
In 2003, RSVP received a Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition for outstanding and invaluable service to the community. In 2010, RSVP was awarded a Programs of National Significance grant to expand our award-winning Healthy Bones & Balance program. In 2018, eight of our volunteers were honored with a President’s Lifetime Achievement Award for completing 4,000 or more hours of service to improve the quality of life here in the Pioneer Valley.
The mission of RSVP has always been to work closely with local organizations to develop interesting volunteer assignments, and to provide mature men and women with a host of service opportunities. Today, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley partners with more than 60 agencies and almost 650 volunteers to help make our communities grow and prosper.
Become a part of RSVP history!
- Written by Pat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley
Retirement isn’t for everyone - a look at reentering the job market
If you can afford to retire, being a volunteer instead of an employee offers the challenge, structure, and social connection that a job provides. A 2018 article on FiscalTiger.com stated, “People who retire from a career but have regular volunteer support placements… are enjoying decreases in anxiety, depression, loneliness, and social isolation, as well as enhanced physical capacity and higher life satisfaction.”
However, today, about 30 percent of adults who reach retirement age continue to work or retire and then return to paid employment. Whether it is due to inadequate financial planning or other factors, seniors may soon become the fastest growing population of job seekers. In July 2017, Bloomberg News featured an article by Ben Steverman, “Working Past 70: Americans Can’t Seem to Retire,” which stated that “US seniors are employed at the highest rates in 55 years.”
With a growing number of adults choosing to work beyond retirement age, organizations and websites geared to help seniors are growing rapidly. Don’t forget that volunteering can prepare retirees to reenter the job market.
Some search sites for employment and volunteering are:
- AARP Foundation’s Back to Work 50+: for a free copy of the 7 Smart Strategies for 50+ Jobseekers guide, call toll-free 1-855-850-2525
- AARP Job Board: Find help with job searches, resume writing, interviewing skills, and more
- Job search engines: Monster.com, CareerBuilder.com, USAJobs.gov, RetiredBrains.com, RetireeWorkforce.com and Seniors4Hire.org
- Massachusetts Department of Labor
- Veterans Employment and Trainings Services (VETS)
- Recruitment and staffing agencies offer temporary positions with on-the-job experience and may help with interview skills and computer skills
- Volunteering: RSVP of the Pioneer Valley and VolunteerMatch
Whether you retire or continue to work, keep active and engaged for your health and well-being.
- Written by Ginger Elliott, Volunteer Coordinator, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley
“Experience On Call” might be the right fit for you
RSVP of the Pioneer Valley has over 600 volunteers who serve at more than 65 nonprofit agencies throughout Franklin, Hampden, and Hampshire Counties. Our volunteers represent a wide variety of skills, interests, and lifestyles. One placement option that works for many is “Experience On Call.”
What is Experience on Call at RSVP of the Pioneer Valley?
Experience On Call is not a regular weekly or monthly commitment. It provides the opportunity to volunteer for specific, time-limited events and projects. RSVP Experience On Call volunteers have helped artists to set up for fairs, provided consultation for information technology projects, cleared hiking paths, served on building project planning boards, and decorated historic homes for the holidays, among many other things. The possibilities are as varied as our volunteers are.
Experience On Call volunteers may have registered for service in response to something they’ve seen in the “Upcoming Events” section of our monthly newsletter. Alternatively, they may have been contacted directly by an RSVP volunteer coordinator because of a specific skill set that was included in their volunteer profile upon registration. Either way, they are experiencing the benefits of volunteering, such as meeting new people, gaining confidence, and experiencing a continued sense of purpose, without making a long-term commitment.
Are you at least 55 years old? Are you interested in volunteering but too busy for a regular time commitment? Do you thrive on newness and variety? Do you enjoy the challenge of a concrete project? Would you like the chance to try out a specific volunteer activity in a limited way to see if you like it? All of these are excellent reasons why our Experience On Call program might be the right fit for you.
- Written by Pat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley
Holiday helping at home and away
The urge to help less fortunate people surges as the holidays approach. Most nonprofits, particularly those involved in food security, see an unmanageable swell in offers to assist from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Calls from potential volunteers who want to feel good about helping others could triple. Organizations often cannot accommodate those wanting to serve holiday meals, visit seniors who are homebound, and deliver Meals on Wheels for a day or two. Currie Teoh, Volunteer Director for Manna on Main Street, commented, “I really wish I could bottle up this energy and tap into it at those [after holiday] times.”
Service organizations depend on volunteers throughout the year, and RSVP of the Pioneer Valley matches volunteers who can make commitments lasting well beyond the holidays. A November 2017 article in The Huffington Post by Eleanor Goldberg stated that “nonprofits really need help when volunteer numbers dry up after New Year’s.” Shortages occur in December and January when college students are on semester break and retirees hasten to warm weather retreats. Extra volunteers are needed then to answer phones, drive seniors to medical appointments, pack and deliver meals, stock food pantries, help seniors who are homebound to pay bills, lead exercise classes, and more.
We encourage our RSVP volunteers to make ongoing commitments, and for our volunteers who winter away, we will connect you to RSVP programs in that area. But if you only have a bit of time, some ideas for holiday episodic volunteering include gathering a group for a singalong at a local veterans home, offering to serve and eat a meal with residents of a nursing home, or taking a shift to ring the bell for the Salvation Army Red Kettle Drive.