Enhance retirement by serving the communityJan 30, 2023 02:10PM ● By Kerry Angelbuer
At Antelope Island, Retired Senior Volunteers (RSVP) maintain trails, do repairs at the Fielding-Garr ranch and work in the information center/gift shop. Courtesy photo
For older adults looking for a way to serve in the community, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) might be the answer. The program is offered through the Davis County Health Department and has a variety of ways people can help. The first step is to call RSVP at 801-525-5094 or go to the Health Department website to express interest and a staff person will contact you. RSVP gives volunteers the opportunity to use the skills they’ve developed in their work life or simply try something completely new. Travel to volunteer work can also be reimbursed to keep personal costs down.
Each volunteer is invited to an orientation where they can begin making social connections and learn about volunteer options that might interest them. New volunteer positions can also be discussed and created. A recognition dinner is held each year celebrating the impact of the RSVP’s 238 volunteers serving in Davis County. It was estimated last year that volunteer hours were worth nearly a million dollars.
Before becoming overwhelmed with the huge scope of the project, recognize that even small efforts performed at home can be part of this impact. Friendly Callers, for example, make weekly phone calls to homebound or isolated seniors in the area to increase social interaction, reassurance, and monitor any health concerns. Making cards, scarves or baby bundles for deployed military troops and their families is another at-home option. Last year 14 Reading tutors at local elementary schools were able to help children falling behind in reading to make significant (87%) increase in reading scores. RSVP estimates that 28 volunteer will be needed next year.
Some volunteer opportunities can be beneficial to both parties. The “Stepping on Fall Prevention Program” needs volunteers to co-facilitate the evidence-based, confidence building program aimed at fall prevention. Two and a half hours once a week for seven weeks including set-up and take down can help both the volunteer and participants to recognize risks and take steps to prevent a fall. Co-facilitators are also needed for classes covering chronic health conditions including diabetes.
Outdoor volunteer positions are available at the Antelope State Park, Eccles Wildlife Education Center and as a dog walker for Davis County Animal Care. Walking dogs helps them stay calm and content around humans making them more appealing, and more likely to be adopted.
Much needed volunteers teach seniors about Medicare fraud and abuse and how to enroll in Medicare or the State Health Insurance Information Program. Other volunteers are trained to work at hospitals providing information, wheel-chair support or even light office duties. Hospice volunteers provide companionship for patients and respite for families in homes. Hospice can include reading books aloud, playing games or just having a conversation with an older adult nearing the end of their lives.
RSVP can assist older adults in finding meaningful, fulfilling work to enrich the best years of their lives.