RSVP Matches Volunteer Interests, Skills and Schedules with Meaningful Jobs

RSVP Ambassador Sarah Parkhurst helps out at Wellspring Family Service's Baby Boutique every week.

No stranger to volunteering, Sarah Parkhurst bustles her way through Wellspring Family Service's Baby Boutique every Thursday, sorting clothing donations, baby equipment, diapers, infant formula, toys, books and other essential items that are then made available at no cost to homeless families in need. Sarah's volunteer list is long and varied. She has tutored in adult education and literacy, assisted in a statewide event sponsored by Hire America's Heroes to connect veterans to jobs, lent a hand to others in need through her work with the American Red Cross, promoted RSVP in her official role as an Ambassador for the organization, and proven an invaluable volunteer in innumerable ways over the 10 years she has volunteered with RSVP—Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of King County.

RSVP is sponsored locally by Solid Ground and nationally by the Corporation for National and Community Service. Our goal is to make volunteering easy and rewarding by finding meaningful volunteer positions for those 55 and older in nonprofit organizations and agencies that meet community needs. We do this by providing the personal service of matching a volunteer's interests, skills, and schedule with an opportunity that best suits them. We feel fortunate that we have over 100 active partner sites whose needs continue to provide significant jobs for volunteers.

Whether you like to volunteer with children, teens, adults, or older folks, we have placements in all age groups across King County in a variety of different settings—schools, congregate meals at senior centers, food banks, literacy programs, tutoring, mentoring, hospice care, environmental and conservation programs, and homeless and transitional housing settings. There are also opportunities to engage in building capacity for organizations, doing things such as strategic planning, fund development, and volunteer recruitment, management, and training.

RSVP Ambassadors connect with their communities in meaningful ways and enjoy the camaraderie of training and working together and recruiting new members.

If consumer awareness is of special interest, you can educate seniors about fraud and Medicare assistance. Disaster preparedness is another vital service and something we can match you up to if that grabs your attention. Knitting and crocheting cold-weather clothing for the homeless is a long favored project that RSVP Knit-It-Alls members participate in year after year. We can provide patterns and even some yarn to get you started.

Perhaps one of the most engaging ways to be a part of RSVP is by becoming an Ambassador for the organization. The purpose of the Ambassador role is to increase the visibility of RSVP through the recruitment of volunteers and promotion of RSVP at outreach, community and recognition events.

Sarah, in addition to her many volunteer jobs over the years, is also an Ambassador. In that role, she not only connects with others in the community and enjoys the camaraderie of fellow members in the Ambassador group but becomes involved in special projects that place her front and center in representing RSVP. With her Ambassador hat on, Sarah and her colleagues provide invaluable insights to RSVP staff in order to keep the program strong and vibrant.

There is a lot to like about volunteering with RSVP. Many of our volunteers value the supplemental accident, personal liability and auto liability insurance that goes beyond your own coverage while volunteering and traveling to and from your RSVP assignment—at no cost to you.

And while you not only receive the personalized attention of someone to help you find that perfect volunteer placement, you will also receive RSVP's quarterly publication, Experience in Action, which contains program news, volunteer opportunities, and articles by other volunteers.

Being part of a national organization that is dedicated to encouraging and supporting volunteerism is compelling, as is being recognized annually for the contributions that you make as a volunteer to RSVP's mission.

Sarah says it best: "I believe that, as we age, and more healthily than in the past, we still have much to offer. Finding a satisfying niche in which to use talents and skills adds great joy and a tremendous sense of well-being to our lives."

Want to know more about volunteering with RSVP?  For more information, call 206-694-6785 or 206-694-6786 or visit our website.

Author Jan Hancock is the King County RSVP Coordinator at Solid Ground. RSVP's quarterly newsletter, Experience in Action, is distributed to 4,000 RSVP volunteers and friends. Every year, Solid Ground provides nearly 60,000 families with resources and support they need to overcome homelessness, hunger, racism, domestic violence and other poverty-related traumas.