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RSVP Marks 40 Year Milestone for Volunteers 55+

OSWEGO, NY – On September 5, the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a division of SUNY Oswego’s Office of Business and Community Relations, celebrated its 40th anniversary at SUNY Oswego, with volunteers, non-profit representatives and numerous dignitaries present to honor the contribution of more than 400 volunteers.

Sandy Creek - Lacona Community Cupboard and Friendship Shoppe Volunteers dine together at the luncheon. From left are Teddi Horth, Pat Miller, Pat Machemer, Katie Duger, Pat Ingrahm Rossman and Laura Kehoe.
Sandy Creek – Lacona Community Cupboard and Friendship Shoppe Volunteers dine together at the luncheon. From left are Teddi Horth, Pat Miller, Pat Machemer, Katie Duger, Pat Ingrahm Rossman and Laura Kehoe.

The mission of RSVP is to connect people 55 years of age and older with volunteer opportunities in their communities and to encourage and foster the development and maintenance of opportunities that engage, support and enhance the lives of Americans 55+, while responding to the priority needs of the community.

Attendees at the Recognition Luncheon were encouraged to wear red, as the ruby gemstone signifies a 40-year anniversary and to wear their heart (name badges) on their sleeves in conjunction with the event’s theme, “Volunteers are the Heart and Soul of the Community.”

Attendee Kathy Mantaro, guest of Terie Delahunt-Dano from the Oswego Book Mobile said, “I have to say I was blown away with the number of volunteers and agencies served by RSVP.  The Bookmobile is fortunate to have Rosie Conaway (RSVP Volunteer) working with us.  You certainly deserve a great deal of credit for your service over the years.  Congratulations!”

40 years ago “Friendly Visiting” was the most popular activity and getting organizations to consider using volunteers often met with resistance.

Over the years the value of volunteers proved itself and in most cases non-profit agencies today cannot get enough volunteer assistance.

In fact, all age groups, in both the public and private sector are taking to volunteering as a means to strengthen communities and achieve personal satisfaction.

College students can now get credit for “Service Learning” and “Civic Engagement” has become prevalent on campus.

Companies release employees to champion a cause on “Make a Difference Day” and all members of the community come out in masses to support their neighbors in times of trial and tribulation.

Some of RSVP’s most enduring initiatives conceived of over the years have been AARP’s Tax Aide and Driver Safety Classes, Tourist Information Centers and Mature Living newsletters, Food Pantries and Meals on Wheels.

The Osteoporosis Bone Builders Class is now RSVP’s largest program with 70 instructors and “6 Steps to Better Balance,” the newest RSVP initiative, is developing in partnership with the County’s Healthcare Coalition.

Among those recognized were 17 volunteers who received the Presidential Lifetime Achievement Award.

The award acknowledges 4,000 hours of volunteer service with a congratulatory letter from President Barack Obama, personalized certificate and commemorative pin.

The achievement awards were presented to: Cleveland’s Ione Dolbear; Fulton’s Carrie Butler and Douglas Davis Sr.;   Hannibal’s Louise Kellogg; Lacona’s Phyllis McNitt; and New Haven’s Pat Foster.  Also, from Oswego, Ceil Bell-Klemenz, Lin Davis, Yvonne Jackson, Nancy Perticone, Ann Sirchia, Rose Woods and Ruth Woodworth. From Pulaski, Edith Cox, Mary Lou Morrow, Eleanor Spicer and Catherine Waterman.

RSVP is part of a nation-wide network of Senior Corps programs, sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service.  Each of the 700+ programs in the United States is sponsored by a non-profit agency.

Oswego County RSVP is sponsored by SUNY Oswego, United Way and New York State Office For The Aging.

RSVP offers Mature Living, a bi-monthly publication with news and information that is national and local in scope and of interest to older Americans.

For more information and/or to receive Mature Living, call 312-2317 or email [email protected]