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October 2, 2013

RSVP turns 40

PLATTSBURGH — The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Clinton County has kept going and going for 40 years now.

The milestone gives volunteers a little more to celebrate this year at Friday’s Recognition Luncheon at the Peru VFW Post 309.

“RSVP started in 1973,” said Kate Gardner, director of the program.

“At that time, RSVP was sponsored by Clinton Community College and was part of this national volunteer-service agency at the federal level.

“It then became part of the Corporation for National Community Service, which kind of came out of the Serve America Act with President Clinton.”

At that time, the RSVP programs nationwide were reorganized. RSVP, funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service Senior Corps Division, receives grants from the United Way of the Adirondack Region and New York State Office for the Aging.

“Just like AmeriCorps exists today, RSVP is part of Senior Corps,” Gardner said. “Senior Corps is the senior version of AmeriCorps, a part of the president’s Serve America Act that was created. A bunch of North Country citizens in the ‘70s thought it would be great to have one of these locally. You don’t have to be retired and senior. You just have to be 55 and older.”

Locally, RSVP has 395 active volunteers — ages 55 to 102 — who have contributed 40,000 hours.

“We’re celebrating what RSVP does, recognizing our volunteers at a Recognition Luncheon. They’ve done it for 40 years. I have been here four years. I come from a long line of great directors who have guided the program to its current status,” she said.

The volunteers serve nonprofit organizations and agencies.

“We have volunteers serve at North Country Chapter of (the) American Red Cross, CVPH (Medical Center), North Country Center for Independence and the Radio Reader Program. The readers read at Mountain Lake PBS for people who are visually impaired. They also volunteer in 10 schools in Clinton County through the Reading Buddy Program,” Gardner said.

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