Plymouth County’s 27 communities in southeastern Massachusetts have no volunteer center nor any other regional organization or mechanism for encouraging voluntary citizen participation. Manny Valente worked with local citizens to create a new, non-profit corporation, Mayflower RSVP, Inc., to fill the gap. Incorporated on December 14, 1999, Mayflower RSVP initiates projects and programs that mobilize volunteer service activities to bring about the changes people need in their lives. He was an organizing member of the board for Mayflower RSVP, Inc., and now holds the office of Treasurer.
During RSVP’s first year, he volunteered for special events of the fledgling organization to engage others to serve. His personal efforts brought new visitors to Evanswood Center for Older Adults on Make a Difference Day last October, hosted volunteers from all walks of service at an open house during National Volunteer Week in April, and provide ongoing administrative support to the staff of RSVP—besides signing all the checks twice each month.
Mr. Valente’s personal commitment to citizen volunteering is not new to his role with Mayflower RSVP. He has served more than 50 years as a citizen volunteer. He designed budgets for the Town of Plymouth on their Finance Committee in the early 1950s. As a member of the local Kiwanis Club, he’s worked on countless fundraisers for them since 1960, delivered Meals-on-Wheels with them to local shut-ins, and has been the Kiwanis Secretary for the past decade. Even when he was working full-time in his florist ship, he displayed the kind of caring that earned him the nickname “Mr. Goodbar.” He worked long hours after the shop closed up for the night—often during the holidays, because, as he told his children, “someone always needs flowers.” He’s built his life around seeing what someone needs—and then delivering it himself.
The creation of Mayflower RSVP, Inc. has resulted in the Senior Corps’ RSVP program serving Plymouth County this past year and providing for people 55 and older, and has provided the means to organize volunteer services that allow change to ameliorate people’s lives. Last April, Mayflower RSVP, Inc. made a targeted outreach to the Town of Plymouth for National Volunteer Week’s “Red V Campaign.” All 400 residents of Plymouth who serve on Councils, Committees, Commissions or Task Forces for the town, or who provided direct services to residents at the public library, recycling center or the Senior Center, received a “Red V” in their thank-you letter from America’s Home Town.