By Kim Rogers-Hatfield
RSVP of Madison County
Senior Corps Week, May 7-11, was created by the Corporation for National and Community Service to celebrate the important impact more than 340,000 volunteers have on our nation. RSVP, the Senior Corps program sponsored by the United Way of Madison County, has 118 active volunteers who served over 27,000 hours in 2011. RSVP provides opportunities for those 55 and over to make a difference through volunteer connections.
During this special week United Way wants to recognize the unique talents that our Madison County residents 55 and over possess to use their wisdom, skills, and experience to create and support the kind of change that makes a lasting generational impact. Locally and across the country Senior Corps volunteers such as RSVP are mentoring and tutoring children, preparing for natural disasters, and helping meet the needs of our communities.
Our local RSVP program provides volunteers for community projects and agencies including Born Learning and the Youth Mentoring Initiative of United Way, Operation Weatherization, nonprofit agencies such as Operation Love Ministries, the Paramount Theatre & Ballroom, Madison County Historical Society, East Central Indiana CASA, Madison County COAD (County Organizations Active in Disaster), White River Watchers and several others. RSVP volunteers work to help improve the lives of our most vulnerable citizens, strengthen our educational system, protect our environment, serve in our local hospitals and contribute to our public safety.
Recently, RSVP of Madison County awarded its 2012 RSVP Volunteer of the Year award to Nellie Elsten. Nellie works as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for East Central Indiana. She works almost countless numbers of hours providing a voice for children involved in abuse and neglect court cases. CASA Executive Director Annette Craycraft said of Nellie, “She is an exceptional child advocate — what we call a ‘Super CASA’... Nellie is an asset to CASA, and has made a significant positive impact within our agency and on the lives of many children and families in this community.”
When accepting her award Elsten said, “CASA does more for me than I do for them,” feeling that the children she helps bring meaning to her life. She also stated she wanted to volunteer immediately after she retired. “I couldn’t just sit around the house watching ‘NCIS,’” she said, playfully.
Volunteer service by older Americans not only helps our community by solving local problems but studies have shown that volunteering has many benefits for the volunteer as well. Individuals who volunteer live longer, have lower rates of depression, greater life satisfaction and maintain overall better health.
RSVP volunteers are making a difference for generations. Thank you to all who serve as RSVP volunteers. If you would like to make a difference and become a part of RSVP call Kim Rogers-Hatfield, RSVP director, 765-608-3067 or by email email@example.com.
Kim Rogers-Hatfield is director of RSVP for the United Way of Madison County.