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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Many sing high praises for RSVP program

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

"The RSVP volunteers are a joy to have around the agency." -- Lisa Barnes

SIKESTON - Some see senior citizens as a group of individuals with old-fashioned ideas and little to offer in today's society.

They evidently haven't talked to Lisa Barnes.

She describes them as an asset to the House of Refuge for Battered and Abused Women and Children. And she's not alone, there are countless employers who sing high praises for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program and its 587 volunteers.

On Nov. 13, those individuals aged 55 and older will be the guests of honor at a banquet to be hosted at 2 p.m. at the Drury Lodge in Cape Girardeau.

It's simply a way to say thank you for sharing their wisdom and years of experience, says Tina McDowell.

"The Retired Senior Volunteer Program recruits volunteers 55 years of age or older in order to help expand services in non-profit agencies who are struggling with today's social issues and problems," said McDowell, RSVP administrator for Scott and Cape Girardeau counties. "This agency connects volunteers and resources so that they may work as effectively and efficiently as possible to create positive change for our communities in Scott and Cape Girardeau counties.

"This event is held each year to recognize the special people in our program throughout the year who demonstrate the commitment and continuance of an ongoing dedication," she said. "Also, this is a wonderful opportunity for all of us to be together, to celebrate and to visit with one another. Being in a two-county program, you don't always get the chance to see each and every volunteer."

Not only does RSVP give a big boost to the participating business, but it puts the retired senior back into the community, supporting and enhancing the senior's life style, self-esteem and longevity, officials said.

The program seeks to promote in the individual feelings of gratification and accomplishment through volunteer services on a regular basis. Volunteers provide services and assistance to a variety of non-profit agencies and local government.

Barnes said what the senior volunteers bring to the House of Refuge is invaluable, especially to the youngest residents who are shown additional love in a situation that can be both frightening and confusing.

"The RSVP volunteers are a joy to have around the agency," said Barnes, project director. "The children absolutely love spending time with the ladies since they read to the kids, play games with them or bring them goody bags. The women enjoy the RSVP volunteers' stories about life and ways to handle difficult experiences throughout their lives. Overall, the volunteers are genuinely dedicated to helping those in need and are committed to the program."

"Seniors play a vital role in our community, a valuable resource that needs to be utilized in our community, county, state and country today," added McDowell. "We learn so much from our senior population and RSVP gives us the opportunity to receive as well as share that special gift. They have a lifetime of knowledge that is worth sharing with others."