RSVP — Volunteers make a difference

“Volunteers Making A Difference in the Lives of Others.”

That was the theme of the 2013 recognition luncheon that the RSVP of Jefferson County held May 28 in the community room of the Laurels of Steubenville.

RSVP, a program of Family & Community Services Inc., is an acronym for Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. It is for adults age 55 and over to use their life experience and skills to answer the call of their neighbors in need, according to the RSVP website, which lists its vision as “to serve as a bridge between those who need and those who give” with its mission identified as “to engage men and women age 55 and over in meaningful volunteer service to strengthen the well-being of both self and community.”

Desi Gampolo, program manager, said the local RSVP volunteers collectively gave 15,000 hours of volunteer service in a year.

And they definitely make a difference.

“Yes you do,” and most of the time it is much more than each of you really knows,” Gampolo wrote in the program bulletin.

“You are what we are all about. Without you we would not be the program we are and could not continue making a difference in our communities and in the lives of those in need,” she noted.

A member agency of the United Way of Jefferson County, RSVP of Jefferson County has its volunteers providing a variety of services, including tutoring, mentoring, food and medication assistance, community cleanups and health care services. They work at sites that include the American Red Cross Jefferson County Chapter, Jefferson County Fourth Street Health Center, Wayne Elementary School, Wells Academy, Trinity Health System, Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce, Charity Hospice, Urban Mission Ministries, YWCA, Historic Fort Steuben, Tony Teramana Cancer Center and Prime Time Office on Aging.

The event included a welcome by Gampolo; remarks by Amy Arnold, director of Senior Programs, Family & Community Services Inc.; and the luncheon blessing by Rose Mankowski-Moodie, who wore two hats. She is the activity director for the Laurels of Steubenville, which served as the gracious host and provider of the meal, and she is among one of the members of the board of advisers for the RSVP.

She is joined by Sean Arai, Wal-Mart Distribution Center; Carol Bonar, Trinity Health Systems; Judy Bratten, Historic Fort Steuben director; Peggy Elliott, Jefferson County Community Action Council; Caroline Harris, Jefferson County Job & Family Services; Kathy Musso, Jefferson County Chapter American Red Cross; Jaye Lynn Needham, Trinity Health System; and Judy Owings, Prime Time Office on Aging.

The photos on today’s community page are of the volunteers who were able to attend the event, including four women whose combined years of service total more than 100 years of demonstrating a heart to help others.

Tillie Guisto has the most at 29 years, followed by Lottie Grajewski and Adrianna Marangon, each with 25 years, and Marie A. Miller with 24 years.

In addition to lunch, the presentation of certificates and a ton of door prizes, the event also was an opportunity for everyone to hear what’s going on with the new Jefferson County Senior Center, the name for now for what previously was Temple Beth Israel at 300 Lovers Lane, Steubenville.

The former synagogue is being transformed into a full-service senior center and is a place that needs a name, according to Judy Owings of Prime Time.

The location boasts lots of room, lots of parking and lots of potential with its 16,000 square feet situated on 2 1/2 acres.

There will be an open house at the center on June 20 with more information on that to come so plan to check it out if you’re interested.

Owings said keeping people engaged physically, mentally and emotionally promotes healthy aging, and the center aims to do that in offering a variety of programs and activities.

In respect to Prime Time services, the center itself will be geared around those 60 and older but the center will look to attract the 50 and older pool.

That made my ears perk up given I’m in my double nickel year at 55 and going to a “senior center” is a thought that hadn’t crossed my mind.

The annual membership fee for Jefferson County residents 60 and older will be $25 and $35 for those under 60.

People from adjacent counties will be able to join, too, she said.

A website is under development that will be a future resource of information related to the senior center which also will serve as one of Prime Time’s meal sites.

There are 11 of those throughout Jefferson County offering a noontime meal Monday through Friday. If you’re 60 or older, it’s a meal for a $1 donation although even that isn’t required. If you’re under 60, lunch is $4.

Although it’s not set in stone, the center will officially open after the 4th of July with the hours likely to be something like 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. or 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and initially closed on weekends except for special events, Owings told the RSVP crowd which will have opportunities to serve there.

I’m eager to see how all this pans out.

The RSVP office, by the way, is located in the Gallery building at 2700 Sunset Blvd., Steubenville.

Anyone interested in volunteering can call there at (740) 346-0771.