Daily Point of Light # 2363 Feb 24, 2003

The Senior Volunteer Programs (SVP) of Northern Arizona have more than 500 volunteers who serve in excess of 150,000 hours each year through one of their three core programs. They believe that seniors are a valued and respected part of the communities and are assets to be embraced for their knowledge, wisdom, time, energy, skills, diversity, service, fitness, leadership and life experiences. The mission statement is to value and promote service programs which utilize seniors as assets to the communities in which they serve, engaging seniors in service to meet critical community needs thus enriching the lives of the volunteers.

Through the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) or Northern Arizona, which was established in 1973, seniors have led the way for service in the regions. RSVP volunteers have established libraries in rural areas, often giving the entire service to keep the library open. They have helped feed the hungry throughout northern Arizona by helping deliver Meals on Wheels through local senior centers as well as preparing and serving food through local soup kitchens. RSVP volunteers are serving in literacy programs, museums, hospitals, with environmental projects and within other nonprofit organizations throughout the state; often they serve as the “staff” of the organization.

Volunteers through the Senior Companion Program (SCP) or Northern Arizona have been helping homebound elderly clients remain as independent as possible since 1985. More than 50 volunteers have served more than 43,000 hours this year providing companionship and other needed services to clients in need. Services include personal care such as grooming or assisting clients to medical visits, nutritional services, social or recreational services, home management, information and advocacy and respite care. Throughout the years, volunteers have saved lives through this program. One such volunteer went her client’s home for a scheduled visit and smelled natural gas. After assisting the client out of the house to a neighbor’s home, the SCP volunteer called the fire department who immediately came out and found the slightest ignition would have sent the building ablaze in seconds.

Volunteers through the SCP program have made an impact on the clients they have served by bringing the outside world into their home. The clients have experienced the elimination of loneliness when partnered with an SCP volunteer.

Through the Foster Grandparent Program (FGP) or Northern Arizona, children have experienced the extra time and devotion to enable them to succeed. Volunteers through the FGP Program assist children ages 0 – 21 who have special or exceptional needs. Through the FGP, volunteers have been able to see a 94% success rate when helping children in academic areas. The extra time and patience a “grandma” or “grandpa” can give has really helped the children with their reading, math and thinking skills. Other children served by FGP volunteers have seen a 66% – 85% increase in their social skills, motor skills and language development skills. For some children, the FGP volunteer is the only grandparent they know.