Senior volunteer opportunities receive federal fundsBy MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent
February 12. 2014 10:16PM
Federal grants will continue to support senior volunteer opportunities in the Monadnock and Upper Valley regions.
Second District Rep. Annie Kuster, D-N.H., announced the grants Tuesday. The Keene-based Monadnock RSVP Volunteer Center is to receive up to $79,413 in federal grant funding to support senior volunteer opportunities throughout the Monadnock Region. In Lebanon, RSVP Volunteer Center is to receive up to $90,517 to fund the same in the Upper Valley.The grants were awarded through the Corporation for National and Community Service's Senior Corps RSVP program to help recruit and retain at least 300 volunteers in the Monadnock Region and 256 volunteers in the Upper Valley Region, age 55 or older, to help older adults and fulfill essential community needs.
Teresa Volta, program director of RSVP in Lebanon said Wednesday the Corporation for National and Community Service has been supporting about 60 percent of their annual budget, which the $90,517 represents this year, because the Corporation for National and Community Service was established in 1971. This year, however, the federal grant money was opened to a competitive application process, Volta said.
Having to compete for the grant money was something new, she said, and the group was happy to again receive the funds.
"We were relieved because the services we provide are long-term services and some of our Bone Builder classes have been around since 2005," she said.
RSVP Bone Builders is a no-impact weight training class taught by trained volunteers to help seniors increase bone density and balance, which decreases the risks of osteoporosis.Each year more than 355 seniors participate in the free classes, which are held at 13 different locations in Grafton and Sullivan counties.
The federal grant money also supports Chore Corps, a volunteer program to help seniors live in their own homes and communities longer by helping with household chores, running errands and making small repairs.
All of the services RSVP in Lebanon provides are free, but the organization does accept donations, Volta said.
The federal grant money is vital for continuing to provide these services, Volta said, especially since the state cut its funding of RSVP.
"The state cut our funding two years ago and there were some comments that volunteers in churches can fill our gaps, but volunteers don't come free. It costs money to recruit them, to train them and to support them," Volta said.
The RSVP Volunteer Center in Lebanon is sponsored by the Grafton County Senior Citizens Council and provides volunteer opportunities to residents and seniors throughout Grafton and Sullivan counties.
The Monadnock Volunteer Center is sponsored by Monadnock Family Services and works with 45 public and non-profit organizations to match volunteers with community needs. Among the Keene-area programs that will benefit from the federal funds are the America Reads program, in which volunteers read with students in local schools, and the Neighbors-In-Deed program, which matches volunteers with local seniors for companionship and to assist with daily living activities.
"These programs make a big difference to everyone involved," Kathy Baird, program director at the Monadnock Volunteer Center, said in Tuesday's announcement. "They offer help to many of our most vulnerable children and senior citizens, but they also help our volunteers stay active and engaged in their community. It's a complete win-win."