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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 countiesAs we emerge from the concern and confinement of the COVID pandemic, I have been reflecting on the resilience of our elder population, the dedication of our RSVP volunteers, and the need for volunteers in key areas today that are similar to the needs we faced a year ago. 

In March of 2020 LifePath faced a crucial shortage of Meals on Wheels drivers, and today the need is still critical.

In March of 2020 LifePath faced a crucial shortage of Meals on Wheels drivers, and today the need is still critical. Volunteers can make a definite impact on the quality of life for area elders by delivering a daily nutritious meal and performing a wellness check. 

In June and July of 2020, RSVP volunteers dealt with the big lemon of the COVID pandemic by helping LifePath consumers with drive-up meal deliveries, assembling Meals on Wheels, and giving online support to Money Management clients. Today, home delivered meal packers and Money Managers are still needed more than ever, and RSVP is recruiting volunteers with skills in finance or bill paying to help area elders stay independent in their own homes. 

Last fall, LifePath’s Benefits Counseling Program needed volunteers. Designed to enhance the financial security of adults 60 and older and people with disabilities of any age, it offers a variety of supports to keep people independent. The program and its volunteers provide access to benefits and increased home energy efficiency to help people stay in their own homes for as long as possible. 

Benefits Counseling volunteers assist with SNAP (food stamps) and fuel assistance applications, along with referrals to other agencies for assistance with home repair and home modifications. Assistance can lead to possible energy discounts, rebates on appliances, weatherization, and energy audits of homes. Community Action’s VITA free tax preparation program, Fuel Assistance Program, and Energy Programs work hand-in-hand with LifePath’s programs to ensure independence and wellness in our elder population.  

Quoting Energize, Inc. CEO Dr. Susan J. Ellis, "Volunteering offers a chance to feel good‌‌ and‌ help those in need." The need for volunteers in key LifePath programs is as critical today as it was over a year ago. If you are 55 or older, and have some time, experience, and interest to give to your community, you can feel good by helping those in need. Contact Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin counties, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 413-387-1286 or Ginger Elliott, RSVP Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., 413-387-1296, to get started today.

Pat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer ValleyPat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer ValleyOne year ago, I wrote about making lemonade from the lemons dealt to all of us in the form of COVID-19. It disrupted our lives in so many ways, but with more people vaccinated, we are turning the connection corner. Through it all I have been impressed and thankful that our RSVP volunteers remained engaged in their communities and kept safe while doing whatever they could to support our area nonprofits. Many phone calls were made, Zoom sessions launched, and masks fashioned and donated. Food bags were filled and distributed in socially-distanced settings, and tech support was offered.

If you are ready for the satisfaction of using your time, talent, creativity, and experience to make a difference, then you are needed.

Now, RSVP volunteers are ready to get back to more direct service and are available to provide needed volunteer support to agencies and programs reopening their offices. Just a few immediate needs include volunteers for LifePath’s Money Management program to keep clients’ bills paid. This support toward the financial well-being of consumers secures their independence at home. The Ombudsman program trains volunteers to ensure that the needs and rights of elders in long-term care facilities are being met. Rides for Health drivers are crucial to enabling homebound elders to access medical appointments, while Phone Pal volunteers provide critical social support to elders who have been isolated from activities, friends, and families.

These examples, plus many other types of volunteer opportunities, are available at LifePath and many other agencies in the areas served by RSVP volunteers. As we reopen, important and interesting ways to help people in Franklin, Hampshire, and Hampden County communities will resurface or be designed anew. If you are ready for the satisfaction of using your time, talent, creativity, and experience to make a difference, then you are needed.

RSVP is ready to connect you to great opportunities. Contact Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin counties, at 413-387-1286 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. For Hampden county opportunities, contact Ginger Elliott, Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County, at 413-387-1296 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Enjoy the lemonade!

Pat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer ValleyPat Sicard, Volunteer Manager, RSVP of the Pioneer ValleyOver a year ago I met with a potential RSVP volunteer at the Northfield Senior Center. A retired mail carrier, he had some time, liked to drive, and wanted to do something important for his community. Gary started delivering over 20 Meals on Wheels per trip to area homebound elders without missing a beat. Due to COVID-19, program changes had to be made to the face-to-face delivery system, and it became a smile and wave process. But despite the changes, Gary’s easy smile, friendly manner, and ability to deliver on time has made the difference in the well being, health, and comfort of his clients, who look forward to his visits.

Gary started delivering over 20 Meals on Wheels per trip to area homebound elders without missing a beat.

Gary said, "I got to know people and their needs. One 93-year-old living alone loves sports and we talk about that and her childhood when she comes to the door. I love to be busy, and this gets me out of the house. I am happy to do it and will continue.” 

Many other RSVP volunteers, like Gary, are ensuring that homebound elders in Western Massachusetts are getting daily good nutrition with a friendly hello and a wave.  If you are interested in volunteering to support the Meals on Wheels program or other nutrition distribution programs, contact Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin Counties, at 413-387-1286 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.;  or contact Ginger Elliott, Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County, at 413-387-1296 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Pat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesPat Sicard, RSVP Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesLast holiday season, RSVP volunteers were busy helping with ‌countless‌ ‌charitable‌ ‌projects‌ described by Energize, Inc. CEO Dr. Susan J. Ellis as “feel-good‌ ‌and‌ ‌help-those-in-need‌ ‌activities.” ‌But by the spring of 2020, a global pandemic changed everything, and now volunteer service looks a bit different for the 2020 holidays. RSVP volunteers continue to adapt, and many are busy as they don their masks, socially distance, sanitize, and/or connect virtually to help community members and service organizations during COVID-19. They pack and distribute food in drive-up settings, provide virtual data assistance to Fuel Assistance and Benefits Counseling, help homebound neighbors with shopping and friendly phone calls, and more. For example, Mike V. is using his tech talents to help with the Look4Help program, which provides connections to local service organizations.

This‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌season‌ ‌you can volunteer ‌your‌ ‌time‌ ‌and‌ ‌talent‌, even if it looks a bit different than last year.

Ann Marie M., virtually volunteering for the Fuel Assistance program, says, “I do things to help free up the staff so they can process claims.”  As an RSVP exercise leader, she also conducts a weekly virtual Healthy Bones and Balance class, and she shops for homebound neighbors, makes friendly well-being checks by phone, and even keeps up an ill neighbor’s garden. She explains, “I feel good doing little things. It lifts my spirits up because I am doing this for others.”  

Providing data backup for LifePath’s Healthy Living program is only one of many volunteer roles for Carol K. She recently completed training to provide phone support for the SHINE program and will soon be training to help people find the insurance plans that will best meet their individual needs. When reflecting on her reasons for volunteering, Carol says, “more activity is healthy for body and mind in addition to keeping a positive attitude during these difficult times.”

This‌ ‌holiday‌ ‌season‌ ‌you can volunteer ‌your‌ ‌time‌ ‌and‌ ‌talent‌, even if it looks a bit different than last year. 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 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..

Pat Sicard, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesPat Sicard, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin countiesAs the autumn leaves fall, elders can be assured that LifePath’s Benefits Counseling Program is designed to enhance the financial security of adults age 60 and older, and people with disabilities of any age, by offering a variety of supports to keep you independent. Information & Caregiver Resource Center Program Director Laurie Deskavich states, “LifePath, the Benefits Counseling Program, and its volunteers make a difference in so many elders’ lives.” The program provides access to benefits and increased home energy efficiency to help people stay in their own homes for as long as possible.

“Benefits Counseling has made a big difference in my life.”

The Benefits Counseling program can assist with SNAP (food stamps) and fuel assistance applications along with referrals to other agencies for assistance with home repair and home modifications. Assistance can lead to possible energy discounts, rebates on appliances, weatherization, and energy audits of your home.

One LifePath program participant put it best: “Benefits Counseling has made a big difference in my life. They help with my heat, which is electric. In this small apartment that’s helped a lot. They’re easily accessible, but I think a lot of people just don’t use it. I would say, ‘Hey, call this number. Guaranteed, they’ll help.’” To get started, call LifePath at 413-773-5555, X1230 or 978-544-2259, X1230 to speak to a Resource Consultant, or email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

If you are interested in learning more about becoming a Benefits Counseling volunteer, contact Pat Sicard, RSVP of the Pioneer Valley Volunteer Manager for Hampshire and Franklin counties, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-387-1286. Ginger Elliott is the RSVP of the Pioneer Valley Volunteer Coordinator for Hampden County. She can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 413-387-1296.