5000 Acts of Support and Recognition: RSVP Volunteers Honor First Responders

Forget the image of Grandma on a rocking chair, waiting to see if Social Security and Medicare keep pace with her increasing health needs.  If Grandma volunteers with the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), she's more likely to be cleaning up a flood site or working with the Red Cross setting up an emergency shelter. 

RSVP, a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service engages people over the age of 55 in a wide range of service opportunities.  Volunteers serve from as few as two hours each month to something comparable to a full time job.  With 400,000 volunteers throughout the U.S., RSVP is a lifeline to many nonprofits because RSVP volunteers expand the organization’s capacity to provide needed services.  To commemorate 9/11 and honor the service and sacrifices of first responders, the National Association of RSVP Directors (NARSVPD) proposes to launch 5000 Acts of Support and Recognition:  RSVP Volunteers Honor First Responders.

RSVP supports many agencies involved in public safety and disaster preparedness.  In June 2005, CNCS reported that 37,850 RSVP volunteers, almost one in every 10, from across the country provided over 2.6 million hours of service in the area of public safety and disaster preparedness.   Because of these relationships that RSVP volunteers maintain with first responders, it is appropriate that RSVP participate in service and remembrance activities on the 9/11 anniversary by honoring the very same people they work with on a daily basis.

First responders, in the face of natural and man-made disasters like the California wildfires, floods in Alabama and Iowa and the Oklahoma City bombing, embody a strong commitment to help their communities.  5000 Acts of Support and Recognition:  RSVP Volunteers Honor First Responders represents RSVP projects both urban and rural, organizing 5,000 RSVP volunteers to recognize first responders in their communities.  In a preliminary survey of RSVP directors, one project reported that it was routine for RSVP volunteers to provide baked cookies and treats for first responders but in honor of 9/11 they planned on delivering homemade cookies and treats to the workers at 13 dispatch centers in 5 local counties, because workers at the dispatch centers are rarely recognized for their role in providing emergency services.  Another project reported that volunteers will make and serve lunch for first responders at eight fire stations and they have partnered with the local Foster Grandparent Program to help with baking dessert.

First responders come in many forms, from local volunteer fire departments to large statewide agencies, but they all share a commitment to help.   RSVP programs also come in many forms, from small social services agencies to big city governments.  They too have a commitment to provide meaningful service that improves their communities.  NARSVPD will engage 100 RSVP projects both urban and rural, and a minimum of 5000 volunteers in special recognition events to be held on 9/11/2011 or the week prior to 9/11.  These events will be scattered throughout the United States. 

The goal of 5000 Acts of Support and Recognition:  RSVP Volunteers Honor First Responders is  to offer social and emotional support for first responders, create public awareness about disaster preparedness and serve as an opportunity to recruit new volunteers.

NARSVPD will vigorously promote the Day of Service and Remembrance.  Each participating RSVP project will be asked to provide both a list of volunteers and pictures of the event.  RSVP projects have extensive experience in volunteer management and are quite capable of documenting volunteer participation.  Where possible, members of the NARSVPD Board of Directors will attend events.

Once the RSVP projects have registered and agreed to participate in 5000 Acts of Support and Recognition:  RSVP Volunteers Honor First Responders, NARSVPD will list individual projects on our website and on our Facebook page, feature special projects on both; and issue at least two press releases featuring the project as a whole and local projects.

NARSVPD is a 501 (c ) (3) nonprofit organization that provides visibility and advocacy for RSVP, helps projects network and communicate and offers a vehicle of expression of majority opinion on behalf of RSVP and older Americans to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Congress and other appropriate governmental agencies.  NARSVPD will provide outreach to the network of RSVP programs through email blasts and one-on-one emails from members of our Board of Directors.