Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
The New York State Office for the Aging (NYSOFA) Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) supplements a similar program supported by the Federal Government through the Corporation for National Service and is the largest older adult volunteer program in the nation. The RSVP program recruits, trains and places senior volunteers over the age of 55 in a host of community-based human service agencies. In SFY 2014-15, New York State appropriated $216,500 for the RSVP program.
The many impact areas for RSVP include: senior citizen health promotion and wellness; assistance to frail and vulnerable elderly persons in the areas of home visiting, escort, transportation, home-delivered meals, etc.; and cross-generational efforts in tutoring and mentoring children. In Chenango County, RSVP volunteers visit frail, older residents at risk for loneliness and depression brought on by rural isolation. Others provide transportation to the grocery store, hair dressers and other places. Volunteers in Monroe County help address the needs of aging adults by providing transportation to medical appointments and delivering home-delivered meals, as well as serving as friendly visitors, caregivers and tax preparers. In New York City, volunteers are paired with a child of an incarcerated parent or a young person involved in the juvenile justice system and serve as mentors, role models and coaches. These volunteers help youth reconnect to school, improve their grades and take on leadership roles. These are just a few examples of the ways RSVP volunteers make a difference in the lives of those they serve.
The most recent data from the program shows that in 2013-14 there were 34 RSVP programs funded by New York State, with more than 1,100 volunteers providing almost 134,000 hours of service to various projects across the state at an estimated value of more than $2.6 million. These volunteers play a key role in supporting the network of 59 Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs) and hundreds of other community agencies in New York.
RSVP promotes the engagement of older persons as community resources in planning for community improvement and in delivery of volunteer services. The goals of RSVP are to:
- Develop a variety of opportunities for community service for older people willing to share their experience, abilities, and skills for the betterment of their community and themselves,
- Ensure that volunteer assignments are consistent with the interests and abilities of the volunteers and the needs of the community served,
- Ensure that volunteers are provided needed orientation, in-service instruction, individual support and supervision, and recognition for their volunteer service,
- Develop local support to supplement available State and Federal resources and ensure that programs operate effectively and efficiently,.
- Develop a sound, locally controlled senior volunteer program with continuing community support, and
- Work together with agencies and organizations involved in the fields of aging and voluntarism.