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RSVP: You’re Invited to Volunteer

Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesPat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesDuring this national emergency, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley has instituted several steps to protect our 600+ volunteers who are 55 and older. Since seniors are one of the target groups for the COVID-19 virus, RSVP has closed its office and staff members are working from home. Site Partner meetings, Healthy Bones and Balance Leader meetings, New Leader training and New Volunteer Orientations are postponed until a future date. Volunteers are asked to follow guidelines for washing hands, staying home and instituting social distancing. We asked our volunteers to let their volunteer site know that they will be back once the pandemic is over. 

Other volunteers are donating and bagging food at community survival centers and the bags will be available for curbside pickup or delivered to those unable to travel for pickup. 

RSVP staff is connected to our volunteers by voicemail and email to provide help. For example, a call from someone who wanted to volunteer was quickly processed and that volunteer is now delivering meals to seniors. Other volunteers are donating and bagging food at community survival centers and the bags will be available for curbside pickup or delivered to those unable to travel for pickup. Most important, volunteers are helping neighbors who are in need. 

Lynne Feldman, Director of Community Services at LifePath, reports, “LifePath continues to recruit backup volunteers should current volunteers or staff not be able to come to work, or should new needs emerge, due to the coronavirus pandemic. If you would like to register as a backup volunteer, you may do so by calling 413-773-5555.”

For information regarding services in the area, visit Look4Help.org, an online service of RSVP’s sponsor, Community Action of the Pioneer Valley. Baystate Franklin Medical Center needs volunteers and the application process is accessible at Baystate Health. If you have any questions or want to help while still protecting your health, please contact Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin Counties at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-387-1286. Ginger Elliott is the RSVP Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County and can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-387-1296. Be well.

Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesPat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesSpring is arriving soon, and it is a wonderful time to think about ending the winter “cabin fever” and connecting with new opportunities and new friends in your community. A John Hopkins study revealed that “volunteering increases brain functioning because activity gets you moving and thinking at the same time.”

RSVP of the Pioneer Valley is a federal Senior Corps program that matches adults 55 and older to volunteer opportunities with 65 community non-profits. We want to help you get moving, use your experience, or try new challenges as we connect you to prospects close to home and within your time availability.

We want to help you get moving, use your experience, or try new challenges as we connect you to prospects close to home and within your time availability.

AARP asks the question, “Volunteering makes an immeasurable difference in the lives of others, but did you know how much you help yourself by giving back?” Volunteers have good feelings when making a difference in other lives, meet new friends, and according to the John Hopkins study, “experience a happiness effect.”

SHINE volunteers meet with clients and provide free, confidential and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. Volunteers who like to drive provide access to medical appointments for homebound elders. LifePath volunteer Ombudsmen visit residents of local rest homes and nursing homes on a flexible weekly schedule, building professional relationships and feeling purposeful as they help to make sure that the residents’ concerns are heard and addressed.

RSVP now offers New Volunteer Orientation twice monthly and we invite anyone who is interested in all of the many local volunteer opportunities to contact us and reserve a space for the next orientation on March 26 from 10 a.m.-11:30 a.m. Contact Pat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, at 413-387-1286 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Ginger Elliott is the Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County, and can be contacted at 413-387-1296 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pat SicardPat SicardVolunteers offer vital help to people in need and worthwhile causes, but the benefits to volunteers include improving social and physical well-being. According to helpguide.org, helping others can reduce stress, combat depression, and keep you physically, socially, and mentally healthy. Most of all it provides a sense of purpose. Volunteering can be for a few hours weekly or more depending on other life commitments like work, caring for family members, or babysitting for grandchildren.

In addition to counteracting the effects of stress or anxiety, volunteering can improve your happiness. Researchers measuring hormones and brain activity have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense satisfaction and pleasure. In other words, the more we give, the happier we feel.

LifePath volunteer Ombudsmen visit residents of local rest homes and nursing homes on a flexible weekly schedule. Build professional relationships and feel purposeful as you help to make sure that the residents’ concerns are heard and addressed. WestMass Eldercare will conduct a Pioneer Valley Ombudsman training at their Holyoke office on March 25, 26, and 27 from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Researchers measuring hormones and brain activity have discovered that being helpful to others delivers immense satisfaction and pleasure.

Another feel-good volunteer opportunity is the SHINE (Serving Health Insurance Needs of Everyone) program that provides free, confidential, and unbiased health insurance counseling for Medicare beneficiaries. Volunteers work one to one with clients and are well-trained to identify the information and assistance that is best. The 2020 Spring Training is set to take place at LifePath in Greenfield from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with a break for lunch, beginning on April 2. Participants will meet weekdays for 11 sessions. A graduation celebration will take place in June.

To discover more about these and other satisfying volunteer opportunities in the area, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin counties, at 413-387-1286. For Hampden County, contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., RSVP Coordinator, at 413-387-1296.

two women looking toward cameraThe holidays are a bustling time filled with parties, presents, and visiting with family. But the post-holiday season can be a difficult time for many seniors who have no close family members or whose family has returned home. Seniors and people with disabilities living in rest homes and nursing homes benefit greatly from volunteer visits from LifePath’s Long-Term Care Ombudsman program. These regular visits ensure the seniors’ well-being, educate them about their rights, and help residents find resolutions to concerns. Ombudsman volunteers visit weekly on a flexible schedule. 

The post-holiday season can be a difficult time for many seniors who have no close family members or whose family has returned home.

The Ombudsman Program is a perfect fit for anyone who would like to develop their ability to advocate on behalf of others. No prior experience required. Training and supervision is key to preparing volunteers for this important role. The next local training will be held on March 25, 26, and 27 in Holyoke, MA. Please contact Trevor Boeding, MPH, Ombudsman program director, for more information and to get started on your application.  You can reach him via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or by phone at 413-773-5555, X2241 or 978-544-2259, X2241.

The SHINE program (Serving the Health Insurance Needs of Everyone), is a LifePath program providing free and confidential health insurance counseling for Medicare recipients. Volunteers receive extensive training to become comfortable with all aspects of Medicare choices and then meet individually with seniors one-to-one to help resolve Medicare issues. 

Most area senior centers and hospitals have a SHINE volunteer assigned to conduct weekly appointments so seniors should call their local organizations if Medicare counseling and help is needed. SHINE volunteers, who have been called “angels” by some of the seniors they helped, need to be computer savvy and have good listening skills.

For adults who are 55 or older and are looking for significant activities to brighten the long winter days ahead, please volunteer. Contact Pat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley, 413-387-1286, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., for Franklin and Hampshire County opportunities; or Ginger Elliott, Volunteer Coordinator, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley, 413-387-1296, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., for Hampden County needs.

woman helping another woman with documentVolunteer‌ ‌Management‌ ‌guru‌ ‌Dr.‌ ‌Susan‌ ‌J.‌ ‌Ellis‌ ‌wrote‌ ‌about‌‌ ‌the‌ ‌countless‌ ‌charitable‌ ‌projects‌ ‌available during‌ ‌the‌ ‌holidays‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌“organizing‌ ‌or‌ ‌volunteering‌ ‌for‌ ‌toy‌ ‌drives,‌ ‌turkey‌ ‌banquets,‌ ‌or‌ ‌other‌ feel-good‌ ‌and‌ ‌help-those-in-need‌ ‌activities.” ‌She‌ ‌suggested‌ ‌that‌ ‌volunteers‌ ‌could‌ ‌rechannel‌ ‌some‌ ‌of‌ ‌their‌ seasonal‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌energy‌ ‌and‌ steer‌ ‌toward‌ ‌a‌ ‌year‌-‌round‌ ‌commitment.‌ ‌

Although‌ ‌her‌ ‌message‌ ‌is‌ ‌over‌ ‌two‌ ‌decades‌ ‌old,‌ ‌it‌ ‌is‌ ‌still‌ ‌viable‌ ‌as‌ ‌we‌ ‌enter‌ ‌the‌ ‌2019‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌season.‌ ‌Dr. ‌Ellis‌‌ ‌suggested‌ ‌taking‌ ‌time‌ ‌to‌ ‌remember‌ ‌the‌ ‌importance‌ ‌of‌ ‌caring‌ ‌all‌ ‌year‌ ‌round,‌ ‌the‌ ‌gratification‌ ‌of ‌helping‌ ‌others,‌ ‌and‌ ‌suggests‌ volunteers‌ ‌could‌ ‌bring‌ ‌meaning‌ ‌to‌ ‌this‌ ‌time‌ ‌of‌ ‌year‌ ‌while‌ ‌also‌ ‌making‌ ‌a ‌year-round‌ ‌commitment‌ ‌to‌ ‌serve.‌‌

Volunteers‌ ‌assist‌ ‌people with disabilities, ‌or‌ ‌those‌ ‌60‌ ‌and‌ ‌over, apply for public benefits that can save them money and meet their basic needs to stay safely at home for as long as possible.

​One‌ ‌of‌ ‌these‌ ‌enduring‌ ‌volunteer‌ ‌opportunities‌ ‌is‌ ‌as‌ ‌a‌ ‌‌Benefits‌ ‌Counselor‌ ‌at‌ ‌LifePath.‌ ‌Volunteers‌ ‌assist‌ ‌people with disabilities, ‌or‌ ‌those‌ ‌60‌ ‌and‌ ‌over, apply for public benefits that can save them money and meet their basic needs to stay safely at home for as long as possible. ‌ For‌ ‌example, ‌volunteers‌ ‌can help‌ ‌with‌ ‌applications‌ ‌‌for‌ ‌services‌ ‌such‌ ‌as‌ ‌SNAP‌ ‌or‌ Fuel‌ ‌Assistance. They also provide information about available resources‌ for ‌home‌ ‌repairs/home modifications, utility/phone discounts, etc. ‌This‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌season‌ ‌consider‌ ‌gifts‌ ‌of‌ ‌your‌ ‌time‌ ‌and‌ ‌talent‌. Just a ‌few‌ ‌hours‌ ‌weekly ‌can‌‌ say, ‌“Happy‌ ‌Holidays”‌ ‌365‌ ‌days‌ ‌a‌ ‌year.‌

Pat‌ ‌Sicard‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌Volunteer‌ ‌Manager‌ ‌for‌ ‌RSVP‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Pioneer‌ ‌Valley,‌ ‌Franklin‌ ‌and‌ ‌Hampshire‌ ‌counties,‌ ‌a‌ Senior‌ ‌Corps‌ ‌Program‌ ‌sponsored‌ ‌by‌ ‌Community‌ ‌Action‌ ‌of‌ ‌the‌ ‌Pioneer‌ ‌Valley.‌ ‌Contact‌ ‌Pat‌ ‌at‌ 413-387-1286‌ ‌or‌ ‌‌This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.‌.‌ ‌Ginger‌ ‌Elliott‌ ‌is‌ ‌the‌ ‌Volunteer‌ ‌Coordinator‌ ‌for‌ ‌Hampden‌ County‌ ‌and‌ ‌can‌ ‌be‌ ‌reached‌ ‌at‌ ‌413-387-1296‌ ‌or‌ ‌‌This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.‌.‌