PORT HENRY — The Essex County Retired Senior Volunteer Program celebrated its 35th year in a special way — as winner of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Ogdensburg's Caritas Award.
At RSVP's recent 35th-annual Recognition Ceremony, diocesan director of Catholic Charities Sister Donna Franklin praised the 465 volunteers who logged 62,009 hours of service at 95 sites in Essex County between July 1, 2008, and June 30, 2009.
"I want to thank you for all you do for your communities through your volunteer efforts," she said.
Also honored at the luncheon was RSVP Director Patsy McCaughin, who is retiring this year after 35 years at the helm.
"Things that volunteers do are immeasurable," said Sen. Betty Little (R-Queensbury). "They improve the quality of life in our communities."
Little presented McCaughin with a resolution of commendation passed by the state Senate.
"To have someone constant, who was there for 35 years — volunteer opportunities have grown, thanks to her," she said.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward (R-Willsboro) praised McCaughin as well.
"The amount of time volunteers put in allows us to do things we would never be able to do without them," she said. "We believe in our neighbors in the USA."
County Clerk Joseph Provoncha said RSVP and the County Office for the Aging "have a special working relationship that benefits seniors."
The meals program provides not just a daily hot meal but a chance to talk to someone, said Office for the Aging Director Patty Bashaw. "You're keeping a lot of people out of the nursing homes."
The luncheon was catered by the Essex County Nutrition Program for the Elderly and served to the volunteers by students from Moriah Central School and friends of RSVP.
Seven Very Important Volunteer Awards were presented to: Sandra Kudie of Port Henry, Jerry Peeters of Ticonderoga, Jane Rovito of Saranac Lake, William Dolbeck of Ticonderoga, Leah Jaquish of Jay, Betty LaMoria of Moriah and Thomas Wood of Mineville.