RSVP senior volunteers keep giving back

DeWayne Bartels
Amber Harmon,director of RSVP's Eureka office, has been with the organization since October of 2006

RSVP, celebrating its silver anniversary, has focused on bringing volunteers and not-for-profits together.

The local RSVP program — which stands for Retired and Senior Volunteer Program — is headquartered in Eureka and serves Woodford, Marshall and Livingston counties.

Amber Harmon, the current director, has been with the organization since October of 2006.

“RSVP invites adults age 55 and over to use their life experience, skills and talents to meet the needs of those in our communities through volunteer service with not-for-profits,” Harmon said.

And volunteer they do.

In 2009, 439 volunteers served more than 61,600 hours in 77 area not-for-profits.

Harmon said that volunteer work has a real value.

“According to The Independent Sector, the average value of a volunteer for 2009 is $20.85 per hour. Using that figure our RSVP volunteers saved our stations $1,284,360  in employee work value,” Harmon said.

“Besides offering invaluable human resources to volunteer organizations, RSVP sponsors workshops, such as an AARP safe driving course, personal interest seminars aimed at seniors, social opportunities and other activities as requested by our members.

Harmon said volunteering is important to the recipients and those doing the volunteer work.

“Without these volunteers many organizations could not exist, and the knowledge and the background these volunteers provide is a wealth of experience upon which a value cannot be placed,” Harmon said.

Harmon added volunteer work is a way for many RSVP members to give back to their communities, a chance to learn something new and meet others with the same interest and knowing that they make a difference.

“Studies also prove that those who volunteer live longer and have more productive lives,” Harmon said.

Harmon said there is no shortage of volunteers who stand out.

“Estella Schieber of Metamora has been a member since 1988, serving more than 8,500 hours at places like Metamora Grade School, Snyder Village and SHARE Food. She has won the RSVP Presidential Gold Award and the ROSE award. She is well known throughout the community and makes a difference in the lives of many,” Harmon said.

Schieber did not wish to talk about her work.

“I do it from my heart. I don’t want to brag. I’m a better giver than receiver,” she said.

Harmon added, “Myrle and Stella Coffman from Metamora have served their community together since 1999. They are dedicated to the Illinois Prairie District Library serving in the capacity of clerical help, researching birth and marriage licenses and converting the collection of library material to the computer. They are faithful weekly volunteers.”