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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

Region 10 RSVP: Making retirement meaningful through volunteering

Feb 23, 2024 02:52PM ● By Leanne Goebel

Retirement. It’s a blessing and a curse. Many people can’t wait to travel and fill their days with their favorite activities. Yet others find themselves lost without the routine of a job and the socialization their career provided. Volunteering is a way to remain active, socialize, help one’s community, and possibly put those lifelong career skills to good use.

Three years ago, Region 10 League for Economic Assistance and Planning implemented the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP), an AmeriCorps program that pairs individuals aged 55 and older with organizations making changes in their community. 

Today, Region 10’s RSVP program boasts 300 dedicated volunteers who support numerous nonprofits, including Shepherd’s Hand, Meals on Wheels, Habitat for Humanity, Sharing Ministries, All Points Transit, HopeWest and more. Volunteers have the flexibility to choose how, where and when they want to serve, with commitments ranging from a few hours to 40 hours per week. 

“[Region 10] is involved with helping so many nonprofits. You can sign up to volunteer without having to go to individual organizations. It’s one-stop shopping,” said RSVP volunteer Beth McCorkle. 

RSVP Coordinator Joe Walker is inspired by how many people want to help. 

“A lot of people just reach out and want to know if we know where they can volunteer—and we do,” said Walker.

The primary goals of RSVP are to engage individuals in volunteering and eliminate any barriers that might prevent them from doing so. RSVP reimburses eligible seniors for mileage or transportation, provides some meals and covers other expenses related to volunteering. 

Kylynn Wilson, RSVP coordinator in Delta, emphasized the challenges of aging and the importance of staying socially active for seniors’ health and well-being.

“[Volunteering] is a great way to make friends and help your community,” said Wilson. 

Region 10 volunteers contribute in various areas, such as gardening, handyman tasks, youth mentoring, trail restoration, music and art organizations, museums, office work and other activities. They also provide meals to seniors and others in need, with over 30,000 meals delivered. Volunteers with the State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP) saw more than 400 individuals during Medicare open enrollment.

From January to September 2023, RSVP volunteers logged nearly 23,000 hours of volunteer time.

McCorkle, a former IT project manager, finds fulfillment in volunteering and prefers an active retirement over watching TV. Lately, she has been dedicating more time to volunteering with All Points Transit.

“It’s the relationships you build with people when you volunteer,” said McCorkle. “I enjoy visiting with the people we pick up. Sometimes, you are the only communication they have. They tell stories about their families and their lives. Often, you never see them again, but sometimes you do.”

A year-end survey of volunteers revealed that the majority find their volunteer work with Region 10 RSVP enjoyable, feel they are making a positive impact in their community, believe their service is valued by the organization and express overall satisfaction with the RSVP program. 

Seniors in Montrose, Delta and other counties Region 10 serves can sign up online or submit a volunteer application to the Region 10 office, 145 S. Cascade in Montrose.