What is RSVP? Originally known as the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, RSVP was established in 1971 and is America’s largest volunteer network for people age 55 and over with over 300,000 volunteers serving nationwide. RSVP allows volunteers to maximize their community impact by focusing on several high impact areas including: Economic Opportunity, Healthy Futures, Education, Environmental Stewardship, Disaster Services, and Veterans and Military Families.
There are more than 650 RSVP programs across the country. The primary question that each RSVP program answers is, “What are the most pressing and unmet needs in our community, and how can we help?” In this way, each RSVP program is unique because each community is unique. The Northeast Georgia RSVP particularly focuses on “Healthy Futures” for older adults and individuals with disabilities.
RSVP is administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency that supports service and volunteering programs to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement. The Athens Community Council on Aging has been the local organization awarded grants by CNCS to run RSVP in Northeast Georgia since 1973.
Who can be involved in RSVP? RSVP is open to all people age 55 and over and is not limited based on income. RSVP volunteers must be willing and able to follow instructions and accept supervision as required, reside in the service area (Athens-Clarke, Barrow, Elbert, Greene, Jackson, Madison, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Oglethorpe, and Walton counties), and be able to pass a criminal background check when working directly with vulnerable populations.
What volunteer opportunities are available through RSVP? Starting in April 2013, RSVP will provide placements in 3 signature programs:
- Volunteer Transportation Network: Volunteers will provide transportation to older adults and individuals with disabilities to support their capacity to live independently and increase social support.
- RSVP Senior Companion Program: Modeled after the successful stipended program, the RSVP counterpart will match volunteers to at-risk older adults referred by agencies and family members.
- “Squash Senior Hunger” Initiative: Volunteers will provide services that support interventions for older adults who have been identified as food insecure to alleviate long-term hunger and increase food security.
We value each individual with RSVP, and we help connect you with volunteer opportunities within these 3 initiatives that match your preferences. If you’re interested in something specific, tell us! We have commitments ranging from a few hours per month to 40 hours per week. You choose whether you want to draw on your skills or develop new ones. And if there isn’t a good fit for you within RSVP, we’ll help you find somewhere that is right for you. In short, we want to get to know you and help you connect and give back in a meaningful way to your community.
Why RSVP? There are many benefits to being an RSVP volunteer, which our outlined in our “RSVP Volunteer Benefits” handout. Here are just a few perks of being involved…
- Personalized volunteer placement and ongoing follow-up and support from Senior Corps staff
- Free supplemental insurance when traveling directly to and from and when participating in volunteer-related activities, including excess auto liability, accident insurance, and personal liability insurance
- Mileage reimbursement for some volunteers
- Incentives and discounts through our Partners Program
- Invitation to quarterly Volunteer Enrichment Program and annual recognition event
- Serve your country by serving your community through national service
Our volunteers often say that the biggest benefit of volunteering, however, is simply getting involved and making a difference. We think that is pretty special, too! Offering social support to an isolated older adult, providing food to a person in need, giving a ride to a medical appointment, bringing a smile to someone’s face, or being a cherished friend are truly invaluable benefits.
And remember, when you volunteer, you’re not just helping others—you’re helping yourself. Volunteering leads to new discoveries and new friends. Plus, studies show that volunteering helps you live longer and promotes a positive outlook on life!
How do I join RSVP? Joining RSVP is fast and easy. If you are 55 or over and want to volunteer with RSVP on a regular basis, contact the Senior Corps Office at 706-549-4850 or firstname.lastname@example.org or you can download the ACCA Volunteer Registration Form and get signed up today. We look forward to hearing from you!