Daily Point of Light # 2558 Nov 25, 2003

The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) of Orange County celebrated 30 years of service in September of 2003. Since 1973, the RSVP has helped thousands of seniors become involved in the community through meaningful volunteer service. During the past ten years, 2,266,246 hours valued in excess of $37,000,000 has been documented in all aspects of Orange county community life by the seniors ages 55 to 100.

From mediating at the courthouse to relieve the judicial system of heavily loaded dockets to rocking crack cocaine babies to calm them; the volunteers give generously of their time. They impact the lives of vulnerable children and frail adults, the hungry, the lonely, the sick and infirm, and those with many needs.

When the President called for individuals to be trained in Homeland Security, the RSVP program responded. Quickly, Orange County’s seniors became prepared to assist in disasters through knowledge gained in Community Emergency Response Team (CERT), Citizen Fire and Police Academies, Citizens for Neighborhood Watch and Citizen Observer Program. The volunteers are ready and anxious to respond if any disaster strikes Orange County, and age is no deterrent.

One volunteer spent more than 2,100 hours at the Police Department, manning the gun range. Opening and closing almost daily, he is busy scheduling training, ordering supplies, answering telephones and doing whatever else needs to be done. His service frees the police officers to fight crime and aid citizens. This same volunteer also transports blood for the blood bank.

The Orlando VA Healthcare Center could not operate without the support of RSVP volunteers. More than 160 volunteers served in excess of 23,700 hours last year assisting thousands of veterans from all wars, conflicts and peacetime service. The volunteers help with medical records, act as receptionists, prepare charts for doctors and nurses, file, dispense filled prescriptions, work in supply rooms and escort residents from the nursing home to appointments.

RSVP’s four musical groups spent 21,785 hours visiting nursing homes, retirement communities and playing at community functions last year. Their music is therapy to both those who play the instruments as well as those whose four walls seem less confining when people care enough to come in weekly and play beautiful music for them.

An annual favorite service activity for RSVP is the Santa Shop. It is now in its 12th year and steadily growing to serve the needy. Volunteers use their talents to make clothing, toys, games and household items for children to select for their family members. A volunteer accompanies approximately 450 children from Head Start programs and Children’s Medical services as they select just the right gift for their parents and siblings. This experience teaches them early in life the joys of giving and thinking of others.