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Monday, December 1, 2003
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RSVP puts up big numbers
By Marisa Palmieri

This is part of a series of four stories featuring member agencies of United Appeal for Athens County. United Appeal is a collaborative fund-raising agency made up of 13 social and health service agencies located in Athens County.

United Appeal for Athens CountyRepresenting one of the largest volunteer groups in the nation -- the elderly -- the Athens County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) exhibits the 2003 United Appeal campaign theme "Do Something Big" in both manpower and service hours.

According to Alice Curtis, director of Athens RSVP, each of RSVP's 389 members volunteers an estimated average of 20 hours per week.

As a part of Senior Corps and the national RSVP program, Athens County RSVP connects people ages 55 years and over in myriad volunteer activities. "We work with other agencies and supply them with volunteers," Curtis says.

"It's a really good mutual relationship," says Pam Harvey, director of United Appeal.

RSVP depends on United Appeal funds to help reimburse the volunteers for mileage and meals. "It's expensive to be a volunteer," Curtis says. "This program is designed so seniors don't have to take money out of their own pocket to volunteer."

RSVP volunteers work at hospitals, nursing homes, schools and other non-profit and community organizations in Athens County. RSVP members also participate in a transportation program where volunteers drive the elderly to doctors' appointments and other places they need to go. These volunteers have driven as far as Cleveland -- three-and-a-half-hours one-way -- to take others to the Cleveland Clinic.

Many RSVP volunteers work daily in community senior centers around the area. "There are a lot of hardworking older people out there keeping these community centers open," Curtis says.

Recently, RSVP has been asked to coordinate the local Citizen Corps, a community disaster preparation program that has been mandated by the federal government. RSVP is working closely with the Red Cross and other organizations to initiate the Athens County Citizen Corps. "It's wonderful that some of our existing agencies are willing to take on new challenges," Harvey says.

For more information or to get involved, contact RSVP at 740-593-7382.

To donate to United Appeal contact Nancy Crist at 593-1804 or crist@ohio.edu or contact United Appeal directly at 592-1293.

Marisa Palmieri is a student writer with University Communications and Marketing.
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