Dave Marker has been a member of Retired Senior Volunteer Programs (RSVP) of Senior Services, Inc. since 2001, delivering Meals on Wheels (MOW) and volunteering for Probate Court for almost 9 years. Last year Marker volunteered 450 hours which, when calculated by the Point of Light Foundation value of $18.04 per volunteer hour, equates to $8,118.
Marker is a friendly face and welcome visitor when he delivers MOW to homebound residents. "He is cheerful, has a great sense of humor and loves what he does," says Ann Wesselhoff, MOW director, "Oftentimes he is the only contact seniors have with the outside world." According to Marker, "It's instant gratification. They smile and thank you when you give them a meal."
As a volunteer for MOW, Marker provides staff at Senior Services with a daily report on a person who might otherwise go by unnoticed. If a client does not answer the door, staff is notified. Marker is an advocate for seniors who might otherwise have fallen through the cracks.
Marker also volunteers for Probate Court in response to another community need. He has been trained to interview clients disconnected from the larger community, to spot abuse, neglect, and exploitation, and to make certain that the guardians are meeting the needs of the wards of the court. "It's hard work, but I feel I make a difference and that's why I continue to do it."
According to Pat Neal, Intake Specialist and Coordinator of Probate Advocates, "Marker is known as a 'sweeper'. Advocates choose their cases and Marker takes the oldest, least desirable, most challenging ones. With over 500 cases under his belt, he is now skilled enough to intercede for case intervention. He also has taken on a leadership role and is trained to instruct new volunteers. As we say here, we are 'Marker dependent.' We get more positive feedback about Marker than any other volunteer, and many ask for Marker when they have to be re-evaluated. He makes everyone feel so comfortable and his calming demeanor takes chaos out of a house. For kids, he's the quintessential grandpa."
At 73, Marker volunteers despite the obstacles that accompany old age. Another obstacle is financial as Marker pays for gas and other related costs while in Kalamazoo County. Since many of the volunteers prefer not to drive long distances to interviews and advocate for wards, Marker travels throughout the state, "because it's important work that has to be done," and receives limited mileage reimbursement outside Kalamazoo County. Wards of the Court are often obstacles themselves and it takes a very special individual to volunteer in such a challenging situation. According to Neal, "The task of providing for a ward can be very demanding. Volunteers like Marker are an essential link in the chain of service this court provides to its guardians for their wards.