COUNTY—In recognition of the selfless individuals who give their time in support of their community, the Wayne County Board of Commissioners proclaimed Tuesday, April 2, to be National Service Recognition Day in Wayne County.
National Service Recognition Day is an annual chance for communities to acknowledge the volunteer efforts of AmeriCorps members and Senior Corps volunteers in their area.
Receiving the honor at the Commissioners meeting, Thursday, were representatives and senior volunteers from the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program (RSVP), facilitated through a partnership between the Wayne County Area Agency on Aging (AAA) and Diakon Community Services.
As part of the Senior Corps, RSVP is a national program for individuals 55 years of age and older to aid their communities through volunteer service.
“Service is ... a hallmark of the American character and also a big part of helping our nation solve some of its major problems and issues,” stated Kathy Mitchell, RSVP Program Manager, at the Commissioners meeting.
She noted Wayne County has 98 volunteers in the RSVP program, most serving in the Aging Office.
“These volunteers head out quietly every day, every morning, without any fanfare to help improve the lives of others and strengthen their communities,” said Mitchell.
According to the volunteer page on the County website, volunteers at Diakon's sponsored RSVP program participate in the county's Meals on Wheels program, aid in food pantries and AAA kitchens, drive clients to medical appointments, help navigate Medicare though the APPRISE program, and promote wellness and activity among senior residents of Wayne County.
Mitchell explained Diakon launched its program in Wayne County in May of last year, “and the Area Agency on Aging has embraced us and we have worked very well together as partners in supporting seniors, assisting them to live independently as long as possible.”
Volunteering is also beneficial to the volunteers themselves, said Mitchell, quoting a Senior Corps three-year study: “Older volunteers who volunteer regularly are living longer and happier and healthier lives and taking better care of themselves.”
In less than a year, volunteers through RSVP have served over 5,000 meals to almost 500 homebound seniors, said Mitchell.
Aging Administrator Mary Ursich said Thursday, “We're very grateful to this program because...volunteers are so essential to our programs. They could not run without them.”
Ursich continued, “What I love about this program is that it's for people who are 55 and older that want to stay active and give back to our community, and I think we all know that in Wayne County we have so many people who really want to give back and be part of the community...I think that's why it's been so well received here.”
Attesting to the loyalty of community volunteers dating back even before RSVP, Ursich noted some of those assembled “...have been with us for decades.”
Looking at national figures, Commissioner Chairman Brian Smith stated, “There's an incredible number here of 300,000 people nationwide who are engaged in this process and I think that's fantastic.”
Speaking to the group before him, Smith added, “You're not just volunteering, but you're solving problems, so it's incredibly meaningful. I want to thank you all for all that you do for people that use your services and the people that you help.”
Reiterating Ursich's sentiment, Commissioner Wendell Kay stated, “We've always had ... people that have the mindset, activity level, and the commitment not just to their next door neighbors and their friends and their families, but to people that they don't even know and people that they otherwise may not even ever had met.”
Sharing his own experiences with volunteerism and noting the smiling faces assembled before him, Kay added volunteers do what they do, “...not because of a medal or a trophy or your name got in the newspaper, it's because you feel good about it and that means it's the right thing to do.”
Commissioner Joseph Adams thanked the volunteers “...for setting a wonderful example of what it means to be a good person and a community servant.”
Adams also thanked the volunteers, “...for the terrific benefit that you're providing people in the community... you increase their quality of life so dramatically.”
Those interested in joining the RSVP initiative and volunteering their time to others in the community can do so by contacting RSVP Coordinator Dawn Houghtaling at 570-390-4540.
More information is also available online at www.waynecountypa.gov and www.diakon.org.