Volunteer Fox Cities is thrilled to announce they are the recipient of a three-year competitive, nationwide grant in the amount of $84,143 to continue the Senior Corps program of the Corporation for National & Community Service, named the Retired & Senior Volunteer 55+ Program.
RSVP has been a program of Volunteer Fox Cities since 1998 and the award letter, sent from the Deborah Cox-Roush, Director of Senior Corps at CNCS, stresses the accomplishments and highlights of their local efforts during this highly competitive, nationwide grant application process.
“Your accomplishment is significant,” she said. “As part of a rigorous review process, all applications were assessed based on the criteria established in the Notice of Funding Opportunity. Each proposal receiving a favorable review rating were recommended for consideration by the chief executive officer, who made award determinations.”
The program, covering Calumet and Outagamie counties, supports 319 volunteers who logged 61,162 volunteer hours and contributed $1,510,081 worth of economic impact back into our communities in 2018. The program is a staple in the community when it comes to keeping seniors physically and mentally active.
RSVP Program Director Carol Bloemer says that this grant will change the focus of RSVP work in our community. “We have always supported programs for older adults. One of our largest partnerships is Make The Ride Happen, a program of Lutheran Social Services. Together, Make The Ride Happen and RSVP have recruited, placed and coordinated over 70 RSVP volunteer drivers that help get elderly participants to doctors’ appointments, grocery trips, etc. But this grant expands on this work.”
After Lutheran Social Services transferred several of their programs for older adults in the past year, it became clear that RSVP needed to be positioned to support more programs that help maintain the independence, health and safety of older adults.
“We have been looking at all of the services in our community since January 2017 and asking questions, developing new partnerships and determining gaps in services,” Bloemer said. “I have been the RSVP director for 16 years. I am more excited now than ever for RSVP, for the possibilities in the next three years. I keep asking, ‘How can we engage our older adults in our community even more?’ and ‘How can we reduce the isolation of living independently in your own home?’ These are critical health issues for older adults.”
Last year, RSVP invited seniors to participate in See A Need, Take the Lead program through GWAAR (Greater Wisconsin Agency on Aging Resources, Inc). This grant provided training and support for an all-volunteer team to take a deep dive into how older adults want to interface with their community. “Older adults need to tell us what will work best for them and then, we need to try to find a way to provide that support.” Bloemer said.