RSVP switches coordinator

Jacob Lane · Wednesday, August 27, 2014
The Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) recently switched coordinators, after 11 years of service Betty Zimmerman is stepping aside.

She was officially replaced by Karen Thurness on May 1, who recently retired as the deputy city clerk in 2013 after 34 years of working for the city of West Liberty.

"I'm excited to work with the volunteers, it's a lot different than working with the city," said Thurness.

While Zimmerman will still be involved, Thurness will take on the main role for West Liberty's branch of RSVP, which has more than 80 active members at the moment.

RSVP provides volunteers opportunities for those 55 years of age or older. The nationwide program is active in Johnson, Muscatine, Des Moines and Iowa Counties.

It's organized through the Cooperation for National and Community Service, funding comes from the corporation, state money, private donations, Elder Services and United Way.

The Muscatine County Chapter, which is mainly West Liberty, is sponsored by Elder Services, Inc., along with several other Iowa counties.

Melissa Fox is a volunteer coordinator and RSVP Director, she's working on getting more community members involved.

"We're always looking for more volunteers, we know that there's a need for transportation to medical appointments," she said.

RSVP focuses on getting seniors out into many volunteering actives that involve education, healthy futures, veteran services, environmental stewardship, economic opportunities and disaster preparedness.

The local West Liberty RSVP group specializes in education and healthy futures. The RSVP Ride Program is among West Liberty's most prominent volunteer opportunities.

The program was designed to find volunteers that can transport seniors to medical appointments that often take place in Iowa City.

"A lot of your emergency medical drivers are very committed," added Fox.

WL RSVP also does the Rock and Read program, which is designed to improve literacy for students in grades kindergarten through second. Volunteers spend time involved with one-on-one reading with students.

WL RSVP provides other volunteer opportunities such as Pen Pals, which matches a volunteer with a student for letter exchanges, the WL Meal Site, which serves meals to community seniors, and volunteering for the Heritage Foundation in Heritage Park.

There's a lot of need for volunteers in West Liberty; Zimmerman believes that RSVP is just as good for the volunteers as it is for those being helped.

"People have big jobs and are very busy," she said, "All of the sudden they retire and they're not working. By volunteering they get back into that environment."

According to RSVP volunteer benefits include getting matched with a project that shares the volunteers’ interest, personal satisfaction, recognition events, new friends and supplemental volunteer insurance while working.

To get involved contact WL RSVP Coordinator Karen Thurness at 319-627-2817, she's ready to hook you up with a volunteer opportunity.
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