PLATTSBURGH — Opportunity will be knocking at the collective door of Clinton County residents when the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program holds a Volunteer Fair to connect charitable agencies and volunteers.
From 3 to 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 27, at Champlain Centre Mall near Gander Mountain, the RSVP staff, nonprofit groups and church organizations will be ready to unite need with kindness.
“There has been a very negative report out that New York state has a low standing in the nation at volunteering,” said Kate Gardner, Clinton County RSVP director. “We, in Clinton County, do not believe that is true, and we are out to prove it. There are many organizations and many volunteers here, and we’re sure of that.”
Gardner said the Volunteer Fair is all about joining prospective volunteers with agencies and churches that need the helping hand that only volunteers can give. She believes the best forum to get questions answered is to have representatives on hand, giving direct answers. Agencies will include Office for the Aging, Meadowbrook Healthcare, Boy Scouts and Joint Council for Economic Opportunity, among others. Gardner hopes to have up to 20 organizations participate.
“Some of the agencies require volunteers to take some training, and others will just sign them up,” Gardner said. “Many people don’t know that there are benefits to volunteering, besides the satisfaction of helping others, like luncheons to say ‘Thanks for volunteering.’”
While the RSVP guidelines state that they place volunteers over 55 years of age, Gardner hopes to see college and high-school students show up, too. She pointed out that many school components include community involvement for the students. These same students carry a sense of satisfaction that grows with them into adulthood, many coming back year after year filling community needs.
“For instance, volunteers of all ages are needed to help with the upcoming Battle of Plattsburgh,” Gardner said. “It takes 500 volunteers to run an event that large.”
Gardner pointed out that, typically, this time of year, people start putting the summer fun behind them, and think about the fall and winter and what they are going to be involved in.
“We feel this Volunteer Fair will be a great way to get people interested in what’s needed and what’s available in our county,” she said.
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TO GET INVOLVED
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program recruits, trains and places volunteers over 55 years of age in the community where needed to make a difference in the life of a person needing the assistance. Assistance can also help the younger generation find volunteer opportunities.
Areas of need include, but are not limited to, transportation for medical appointments, home visitation, meal delivery and a melding of generations through mentoring to promote understanding for the elderly and the youth.
The main source of funding for the program is through the Corporation for National and Community Service, mandated by Congress, which was cut by 20 percent last year. The New York State Office for the Aging gives each RSVP office just under $6,000, which is 50 percent less than it received two years ago. Locally, the United Way has collaborated extensively with RSVP in Clinton County, giving the program a boost of $9,000 yearly.
There are 38 RSVP components in New York state. Many volunteers say the greatest pay they get is the satisfaction of knowing they have helped someone in need. According to the New York State Office for the Aging website, www.aging.ny.gov, the main goals of the program are:
- Develop a variety of opportunities for community service for older people willing to share their experience, abilities and skills for the betterment of their community and themselves.
- Ensure that volunteer assignments are made consistent with the interests and abilities of the volunteers and the needs of the community served.
- Ensure that volunteers are provided needed orientation, in-service instruction, individual support and supervision, and recognition for their volunteer service.
- Provide reasonable opportunity for community and volunteer involvement and support the development, operation and appraisal of the RSVP project.
- Develop local support to supplement available federal sources and ensure that program expenditures are incurred at the lowest possible cost consistent with the effective operation of the project, as required by the corporation's legislation.
- Cooperate with agencies and organizations involved in the fields of aging and voluntarism.
- Develop a sound, locally controlled Senior Volunteer Program with continuing community support.
For more information on the Volunteer Fair, contact the Clinton County RSVP office at 566-0944 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Their office is located at the Russell Barnard Apartments, 46 Flynn Ave., Plattsburgh, and is open from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday.