The Driftless Region is fortunate to have a unique and vibrant program that matches experienced adults – aged 55+ and willing to volunteer (no need to be retired) – with a wide berth of volunteer opportunities with local non-profits, schools and many other community needs.
Northeast Iowa Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is also the only RSVP program sponsored by a library in the state of Iowa. Funded through federal AmeriCorps Senior grants, state and local support, the small crew of RSVP makes a big impact collectively.
According to RSVP Director Deana Hageman, “Last year our volunteers logged over 36,200 hours. The Independent Sector values a volunteer hour at $28.09 in Iowa. This computes to over $1,017,279 of service to our communities.”
RSVP produces a positive impact not only for the organizations receiving volunteer assistance, but also for volunteers as they find renewed purpose, excitement and a sense of accomplishment. Local communities depend on volunteers for support, and communities are strengthened through the army of RSVP volunteers.
Hageman added, “Many volunteers report they get back more than they give. Volunteering with RSVP is a great way to get connected with your community, meet new people, learn new skills, and/or stay sharp on current skills or knowledge.”
Volunteers are able to set the number of hours they are willing to serve, and are thoughtfully matched with volunteer opportunities at 78 local stations in Allamakee, Howard and Winneshiek counties that best match the individual’s interests, skills and abilities.
A brief sampling of opportunities available include volunteering with youth in schools, childcare settings, animals, care centers and hospitals, with local museums and history, meal delivery, taxes, disaster services, gardening and outdoors, along with many other community needs.
High demand for volunteers
“The stations that have the need for the most hours are food pantries. We have nearly 90 volunteers at the Decorah Community Food Pantry, and between 15-25 at the Greater Area Pantry in Calmar, the Allamakee County Food Shelf in Waukon, Lansing Iowa Food Trust and the Postville Food Pantry. We have just added the Mobile Food Pantry in Cresco and have been referring volunteers to them as well,” Hageman reported. “Feeding our neighbors is important to our volunteers and they make a difference every day doing so!”
“Our program that involves the most volunteers is Pen Pals. This year we will be writing to seven schools and around 360 third-grade students,” Hageman explained. “Three or four letters will be exchanged depending on the school, and celebrations to close out the program for the year will be held in December or May when Pen Pals get to meet each other in person. This program has been a lot of fun for the students and RSVP volunteers!”
Hageman added it’s not too late to get involved with the Pen Pals program. Contact Hageman at 563-277-5181 or email RSVP@decorahlibrary.org by Wednesday, Sept. 27.
Hageman confirmed, “If you have a special skill or area of expertise that you are willing to share, there may a station looking for that and we can help match you to that station. RSVP relies on you to let us know how, where, how often and what you do while volunteering. You choose!”
To learn more about Northeast Iowa RSVP Senior Corps, visit www.decorahlibrary.org/rsvp or visit their Facebook page.