Many frail, homebound seniors and the disabled have benefited from the services provided by Ron Patchett, an 88-year-old retiree. Although Patchett has volunteered in various capacities during the last 30 years, he joined RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in May 1994, when he returned to Kalamazoo from Florida following his wife’s death. Since then, he has been a role model and stellar example of unselfish dedication to those in need.
Patchett is an In-Home Support program volunteer who provides basic, free assistance to frail seniors so that they can remain independent and in their own homes for as long as possible. It was his initial experience delivering Meals on Wheels to homebound seniors that made him aware of many other needs that were not being met. Through RSVP, Patchett provides escort transportation, shopping assistance, friendly visiting, and telephone reassurance, which has more than once alerted a family member to potential problems. Patchett is often the sole link homebound seniors have with the outside world. His work is vital to the community because of the growing trend among the elderly to remain in their own homes, as evident by the client waiting list compiled by RSVP.
Patchett’s contribution of 674 hours last year, when calculated by the Points of Light Foundation value of $14.83 per hour, comes to $9,995.42. But his service is really priceless because it benefits many who could not afford to pay for such assistance. Last year Patchett was matched with seven clients, but also asked to be placed on the emergency transportation and shopping list so that “no one will fall through the cracks.” Since he is usually away from home during the day, he purchased an answering machine so he would not miss an unscheduled request. He continues to refuse the limited reimbursement that is offered to volunteers through RSVP.
Patchett also donated his time to Community Access by taking photos and writing summaries of show personalities who highlight service organizations in Kalamazoo County. He is a member of RSVP’s Peer Prevention Players, a group which provides information, often in a lighthearted manner, on such senior topics as substance abuse, telephone fraud, and scams. He is an avid supporter and recruiter for the RSVP program who once called from his doctor’s office, having recruited the receptionist while waiting to be seen by the doctor.
Patchett takes clients to get their hair done because, as he says, “if you look good, you feel good, too,” provides courier service and sorts and delivers food from his church’s pantry. He even takes leftover bread and feeds it to the birds on his way home through the park.
When someone once marveled at all that he does, he shrugged and said, “Oh, there are so many things I could be doing, I wish I had more time.”