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Beacon Senior News

Mesa County RSVP: Strengthening communities through volunteering

May 09, 2019 11:28AM ● By Melanie Wiseman

I’m not the first person to suggest that Mesa County RSVP add a dating service to their extensive repertoire. After all, match making is their business.

Founded in 1973, Mesa County RSVP began recruiting hundreds of volunteers, addressing local needs and strengthening the community. They are the largest volunteer management agency in Mesa County for volunteers 55 and older.

“Instead of volunteer jumping from agency to agency, we find out what inspires people and what their passions and hobbies are, then fit them with a nonprofit with those needs,” said Mesa County RSVP Volunteer Manager Diane Barger. “We’re a one-on-one specialized volunteer service that finds out what you really want to do, and pairs you with opportunities you may not even know about.”

Today, 550 Mesa County RSVP volunteers donate well over 70,000 hours of service to agencies such as the Community Food Bank, Colorado Welcome Center, Eureka! Science Museum, Habitat for Humanity, and Roice-Hurst Humane Society. Nationally, 250,000 volunteers serve at 28,100 sites and give 75 million hours annually.

A 501(c)3 nonprofit itself, Mesa County RSVP is grateful for it sponsors, donors and grantors. Without their support, the staff would not be able to serve the needs of 60 local agencies. “Each RSVP has a lot of freedom in deciding its significant programs and direction,” said Executive Director Alisha Howard.

Although they work with a variety of organizations and volunteer positions, Mesa County RSVP focuses on health care access and education; academic success of K-12 children in reading, math and science; and safe and affordable housing for low-income individuals and families.

Signature Projects • Senior Scholar - Senior Scholar volunteers help children succeed and grow academically and socially. They may help in a school classroom, library or resource center. Students benefit from personal attention, improve learning and social skills, and develop positive achievement and self-image skills. No teaching experience is required. • Handyman Project - Volunteers help low-income elderly and disabled individuals live safely and independently in their own homes by providing adaptations and minor home repairs, such as installing grab bars, building wheelchair ramps and minor electrical, furniture or plumbing repairs. • SHIP (Senior Health Insurance Assistance) - Volunteers are trained and certified through the state to help seniors with Medicare-related issues. Mesa County RSVP has seven SHIP volunteers who offer free individual and confidential counseling about Medicare options and issues. They also lead Medicare educational seminars.

“Our SHIP navigators are the biggest advocates for people,” said Barger. “Last year, one SHIP navigator alone saved clients over $400,000!”

Volunteer benefits Signing up to volunteer is easy and hassle-free. Volunteer options offer variety and flexibility, and can be long or short term.

“As an RSVP volunteer, you will receive free supplement liability insurance, notices about one-time opportunities like ushering at the Grand Junction Symphony for an hour and then getting to watch the performance for free, and a fun, spring volunteer appreciation event with lots of door prizes,” said Barger. “You get to meet people from all walks of life who are like-minded people with a mission to give back and support our community.”

RSVP values accountability, life-long learning, integrity, purpose and the enjoyment of making a difference while getting to know other volunteers.

“Volunteering can stop the cycle for some seniors of becoming isolated, depressed and going on medications,” said Howard. “We help people stay active and healthy while strengthening our community.” RSVP Volunteer Bill Stevens said he feels appreciated and interested in the world while helping with the Handyman Project.

“Building ramps uses both my head and hands to meet the needs of clients,” said Stevens. “It’s something I love doing and is good socialization for me to hang out with the other guys on the crew.”

For more information, stop by Mesa County RSVP in the US Bank basement, 422 White Ave. in Grand Junction, call 243-9839 or visit www.rsvpgrandjunction.org.