With much of January in the rear-view mirror, have you settled into your 2019 routine? Is there free time in your schedule? Do you feel a need for more meaningful activities? RSVP has good news for you.
The region’s leading agency for adult volunteer programs and opportunities, RSVP offers hundreds of options for you to explore, such as reading to Head Start preschoolers, driving stranded seniors to medical appointments, or assisting at a thrift shop, food pantry blood drive or area museum.
Other popular volunteer roles include helping elementary students to become better readers; mentoring and tutoring older students; tutoring veterans in math as they prepare to enter college or join the workforce; counseling seniors on Medicare coverage; and assisting area nonprofits to plan, raise funds and manage.
“Our staff will help you match your interests with volunteer roles that fit your schedule,” said Jacqui Baxter-Rollins, RSVP’s Director of Programs. ”Once you get started, you can take breaks or change where you volunteer if you want to. We provide flexibility and dozens of choices.” She noted that RSVP’s services are free and everyone is welcome to volunteer.
A Volunteer’s experience
Jo-Anna Campbell, an RSVP volunteer from Ridley Park, volunteers at a senior center in Folsom, where she helps prepare home-delivered meals for food insecure seniors. She also provides rides and home assistance through Aging at Home, which helps older residents with limited mobility to continue living at home.
“I’m 74 but I don’t consider it a lot,” she said. “It’s because I can’t sit still. I’d go crazy.” She and her husband, who also volunteers, take a break from their full plate of activities by spending the winter in Florida. “When I’m in Florida, I’m relaxing,” she said.
Her advice to potential volunteers: “Do what you’re good at. If you’re good at communication, volunteer interacting with people. If you like kids, work with children. If you’re handy, you can do that. Find something that makes you happy. It can be rewarding to just have somebody smile at you.
“When I started to volunteer, I encountered a lot of people who looked so sad and unhappy. Making them happy is a reward to me.”
Volunteer Information Sessions
To help potential volunteers explore opportunities, RSVP schedules information sessions throughout the year. “We outline our programs and talk about the commitments, requirements and training involved,” said Baxter-Rollins. “Then people ask about programs that interest them and we talk about them in more depth.”
Volunteer roles require as little as one or two hours per week. Some activities, such as tutoring veterans, can be done from home. Others, such as volunteering at thrift shops, food pantries and cultural institutions, involve joining and interacting with like-minded peers. “But it’s not your job. You can take breaks and stay home if you need to,” said Baxter-Rollins.
At the information sessions, drop-ins are welcome but you can reserve your space or seek additional information by emailing email@example.com or calling 610-834-1040, ext. 123. Sessions are sometimes cancelled, so RSVP asks that you call before attending. Upcoming sessions are scheduled at the following locations:
Bala Cynwyd, March 20, 10:30 a.m.; Bala Cynwyd Library, 131 Old Lancaster Rd.
Blue Bell, Feb. 6, 1:00; Wissahickon Valley Public Library, 650 Skippack Pike
Exton, Feb. 26, 1:00; Whole Foods, 175 Pottstown Pike
Glen Mills, Feb. 12, 10:00 a.m.; April 17, 1:30; Whole Foods Market, 475 Wilmington West Chester Pike
Harleysville, April 25, 9:00; Henning’s Market, 290 Main St.
Havertown, March 26, 12:30; Haverford Township Public Library, 1601 Darby Rd.
King of Prussia, January 31, 10:00 a.m.; 901 E. 8th Ave. Suite 200
Media, March 14, 10:00 a.m.; Borough Hall, Parlor Room, 301 N. Jackson St
Phoenixville, Jan. 23, 1:30 p.m., Steel City Coffee House, 203 Bridge St.
Springfield, Feb. 20, 10:00 a.m.; April 10, 1:00 p.m.; Giant Food, 950 Baltimore Pike
Wayne, April 30, 10:00 a.m.; Whole Foods, 821 W. Lancaster Ave.
West Chester, March 5, 10:00 a.m.; Giant Food, 1375 Boot Rd. (Hershey’s Mill Village)
Willow Grove, January 30 at 9:00 a.m.; Giant Food, 315 York Rd.
If you’d like to explore volunteer opportunities but cannot attend one of thesesessions, call 610-834-1040, ext. 123 and chat with Marguerite, RSVP’s Volunteer Coordinator.
Fitness: An Emerging Need
If you like exercise, RSVP has identified an emerging community need that could provide an enjoyable volunteer activity: Assisting with fitness programs in senior centers and community rooms.
Volunteers help seniors to do exercises, gain balance, prevent falls, manage diabetes and engage in other wellness activities. After receiving training and becoming accredited, volunteers commit to at least two hours per week for eight to ten weeks.
RSVP is currently placing fitness volunteers through the Delaware County Office of Services for the Aging (COSA). Discussions have begun about creating Montgomery County fitness opportunities.
“Snow birds and active grandparents can choose the time of year when they’d like to volunteer as a fitness assistant or trainer, said Jacqui Baxter-Rollins, RSVP’s Director of Programs. “It’s a great way for ‘younger seniors’ — people in their 50s and early 60s — to serve an important need. And when you meet with the same group for weeks, it can become a good social experience.”