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.
Special certificates and gifts were given to RSVP volunteers Janice Alle of Willsboro; Joan Porter of Ticonderoga; Gladys Hayes of Essex; John Watson of Lake Placid; Barb Brassard, Janet Denney and AnnaBelle Waite of Moriah; and Ruth McDonough of Port Henry. A special gift was presented to Moriah senior-van driver Pamela Yakalis.
A Decade Award was presented to Willsboro Central School, and the Special Award was presented to the Essex County Board of Supervisors for its support of RSVP.
The Board of Supervisors also gave McCaughin a commendation for her years of service.
RSVP is sponsored by the Corporation for National and Community Service and Catholic Charities.
"I appreciate everything you've done," McCaughin said. "RSVP is a community-based program where people help people of all ages through volunteerism to meet basic human needs.This salute to the volunteers is a small reward for all that they do for their communities."
Board of Supervisors Chair Cathy Moses (R-Schroon) said Essex County RSVP started in July 1974 and has been helping people ever since.
"The idea that you are going into the homes and bringing a spark of hope is wonderful. Thank you from the bottoms of our hearts."
To learn more about RSVP in Essex County, call 546-3565.
E-mail Lohr McKinstry at: email@example.com
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