Monticello, NY – As the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) enters its 46th year of service to Sullivan County’s citizens, it continues to grapple with an ongoing need for drivers and funding.
With more requests than the current crop of volunteers can fulfill, RSVP Project Director Caryn Mathews is urgently seeking additional drivers to take local senior citizens to crucial medical appointments.
“This is an invaluable service to our community but one in which we constantly struggle to maintain a level of volunteer drivers adequate to meet the demand,” she said.
“Though they live independently, many of our seniors have no means of transportation to take them to needed medical appointments,” explained Lise-Anne Deoul, director of the Sullivan County Office for the Aging, of which RSVP is a part. “We’re asking our 55-and-older residents who possess a valid driver’s license to donate even just one-half-day a month of their time to help someone’s mom, dad, aunt, uncle, grandfather or grandmother continue to have a fulfilling and healthy quality of life.”
“All our RSVP volunteers need do is drive these folks to and from their medical appointments. These seniors are mobile (some have an aide to accompany them), and so a driver only has to get them safely to their destination, wait a short time, then bring them home,” noted District 2 Legislator Nadia Rajsz, chair of the Legislature’s Health & Family Services Committee, which oversees RSVP. “We provide the personal liability insurance coverage and reimburse for mileage, while the passengers themselves often provide good company and fascinating conversation!”
“Typical medical trips are to Monticello and Liberty, or to Middletown or Port Jervis,” Mathews added. “So these are not long drives, and they’re made all the shorter by the friendships forged on the road.”
Donations as Welcome as Volunteers
“The $53,861 we just received from the Federal government is always beneficial, but that is the amount we normally get and for which we budget,” explained Mathews. “If it weren’t for the compassion of the Sullivan County Legislature – which generously provides a match to those funds – RSVP might not exist at all.”
Beyond the driving of residents to medical appointments, RSVP currently utilizes volunteers serving in 60+ locations across the County, including nutrition sites, thrift shops and food pantries.
RSVP engages individuals age 55 and older in community service that addresses the most pressing challenges in our community, ensuring seniors age independently and with dignity. With volunteer assistance, more than 50,000 meals are served to the community annually, and volunteers also teach literacy skills, visit and call homebound seniors, and provide hospice services. Driver safety classes are taught by volunteers. They also do free tax preparation, run the annual countywide Senior Games, and operate exercise and art classes.
There are currently 286 active volunteers who served over 40,000 hours in 2018 – the value of their hours of service to Sullivan County is well over $900,000.
Nevertheless, there are still costs involved, and as such, RSVP accepts donations of any amount, to be used exclusively in RSVP initiatives.
“We’re also looking for advertisers, i.e. local sponsors and supporters of RSVP and its volunteers, for our 46th Annual Recognition Luncheon’s Keepsake Journal,” Mathews noted. “It’s how we say thank you to our volunteers for all they do for our community, and it will be held this year on June 5 at the Club at Villa Roma in Callicoon. We keep everything in Sullivan County.”
Can you help with time or money? Do you know someone who can? Then please pass the word: Mathews eagerly welcomes inquiries at 845-807-0251. Donations can be made out to RSVP, 100 North Street, Monticello, NY 12701.