City of Portage Community Spotlight: Retired and Senior Volunteer Program

City of Portage Community Spotlight: Retired and Senior Volunteer Program

Each Sunday we will feature a project going on within the city, happenings within a department or someone who works hard to provide services to the community. This week we look at the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) which matches senior volunteers with agencies that can utilize their skills.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) through the United Way of Porter County is a proverbial "win-win" initiative.

The program matches the skills of seniors and retirees to the needs of agencies.

That could mean helping serve meals, making wellness telephone calls, working at a charitable resale shop, helping out in an office environment and a myriad of other things, said Evelyn Harris, RSVP director.

Harris spoke this week to the Mayor's Advisory Committee on Senior Services about the opportunities available to seniors who want to continue to utilize their skills and remain active in the community.

The national service program is open to people aged 55 and over. The local program serves Lake, LaPorte, Porter and Starke counties.

Harris said they presently have about 200 volunteers, but that is down significantly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. She said they are seeking additional volunteers and have developed safe volunteer activities.

Social distancing volunteer assignments have ranged from being an inspirational note writing volunteer to crafting to being a computer buddy.

Seniors who want to participate and volunteer their services must fill out an application and undergo a background check. As part of the application, seniors indicate their areas of interest. The information is used to match up a senior with an agency.

Benefits for seniors, said Harris, include being able to get out and share their knowledge. They are also provided with training, supplemental liability insurance for approved volunteer assignments, social, educational and recognition events throughout the year and quarterly communications of program happenings and more.

Agencies interested in joining the program must also fill out an application and indicate their needs and complete an agreement with RSVP on the utilization of volunteers.

Agencies, which are referred to as stations in the program, is any non-profit agency or for-profit health care facility that uses volunteers to further their mission.

By utilizing the RSVP program, said Harris, agencies receive free membership in the program, free volunteer placement, free volunteer management training and participation in social, educational and recognition events.

For more information about the program, visit the United Way's website at unitedwaypc.org/RSVP or contact Harris at evelyn@unitedwaypc.org or call 219-464-3583, ext. 127.