STEUBENVILLE - Not only does the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Jefferson County benefit from funding through the United Way of Jefferson County, many of the United Way's other member agencies receive a hand from RSVP members.
Last year RSVP volunteers put in 12,860 unpaid hours for such efforts as tutoring, mentoring, food and medication assistance, community cleanups and health care services, said Desi Gampolo, program manager for the RSVP of Jefferson County.
"We have two types of volunteers," said Gampolo.
YOU CAN HELP — Desi Gampolo, program manager for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program of Jefferson County, far right, discusses volunteer options with, seated from left, volunteers Mary Beth Bauer, Jeanne Barker and Mary Pasich; and standing, Janine Arai, administrative assistant for the agency; and volunteer Paul Hlivko. - Warren Scott
"There are those who like to work at a single site, the same day and same time each week. And we have those who enjoy being 'on call.' They prefer different opportunities and special annual events. We call them as we receive specific requests from the volunteer sites," she said.
Gampolo said regardless of which type, "I'm amazed by their energy and dedication. Our oldest volunteer is 93 and has been enrolled in the program for more than 30 years. Many of our volunteers work at two or three sites."
Gampolo said the program's 95 volunteer seniors work at many sites, including the American Red Cross, Fourth Street Health Center, Wayne Elementary School, Wells Academy, Trinity Health System, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Charity Hospice, Urban Mission, YWCA, Historic Fort Steuben, Teramana Cancer Center and Prime Time Office on Aging.
"A lot of the organizations where our volunteers serve are United Way agencies," Gampolo noted.
"They are the agency that supports the other (United Way) agencies," agreed Beth Rupert-Warren, executive director of the United Way of Jefferson County, "RSVP members do a great service for the community and have a lot of skills they can share. It's a great opportunity for local organizations to utilize their experience and talents."
Gampolo said she strives to make a good match between volunteers and their work sites, based upon their own experience and interests.
"We want our volunteers to be happy in what they are doing and we want to give our work sites the people with the right skills," she said.
Gampolo said many don't realize the role RSVP members play in helping various organizations to provide services to the public.
"When you walk into a school, health care facility or any non-profit agency, you don't realize how many of the people you see behind the desk or at the counter are non-paid staff. Many of these organizations would find it difficult to maintain the level of service they provide without these volunteers," she said.
Gampolo said local contributions through the United Way always have been vital to the RSVP's operations but are even more crucial in light of recent cuts in federal funding.
"We are so grateful for funding from the United Way. Through their assistance we are able to continue serving these facilities and we can better assist our volunteers with placements that match their skills and lifelong experiences," she said.
Officials and volunteers with the United Way of Jefferson County hope to raise $444,000 during its 2012-13 campaign.