What is RSVP?
The Portage County RSVP is one of 17 Wisconsin projects sponsored by the federal Corporation for National and Community Service and is sponsored locally by the Aging & Disability Resource Center. Its mission is to promote volunteerism-targeting people age 55 and over-as a means of addressing critical community needs, and to provide a high quality experience that will enrich the lives of the volunteers.
What does RSVP do? RSVP works to...
- Recruit people age 55+ for volunteer assignments addressing community needs in local agencies.
- Develop volunteer opportunities that utilize the skills, experience and wisdom of older adults.
- Increase the variety of volunteer opportunities available to older adults.
- Provide opportunities for intergenerational activities and projects in school and community settings.
- Increase public awareness of the contributions of older adults and report to funding sources the community impact of those contributions.
Why should you join RSVP? RSVP will...
- Match your interests, abilities and time with volunteer needs in the community.
- Provide ongoing staff support and training as well as information on new volunteer opportunities.
- Provide accident and liability insurance that covers you while you're volunteering.
- Invite you to the annual RSVP recognition event.
How can you join RSVP?
Stop in at Lincoln Center or call (715) 346-1401. Click here to Email RSVP.
Please take a minute to review the following list of volunteer opportunities; if something catches your eye, stop in, call or email us. A detailed job description is available for each listing. Likewise, if there is an issue you'd like to address that isn't listed here, let us know and we can work together to identify a volunteer involvement for you.
Click here for our volunteer application form.
You can choose a weekly schedule or you can choose from many short-term assignments and special events. Training is provided as needed, so you may want to try something new. You can also explore community volunteer opportunities at www.volunteersrock.org. When you find something that interests you, let us know and we'll assist you with getting started.
RSVP Signature Intergenerational Volunteer Opportunities
• At the Fernandez Center for Alternative Learning RSVP Workshop Mentoring Program, RSVP volunteers are making a difference with at-risk students by helping them discover the joy of learning through the use of power tools. Students learn about safety and complete basic woodworking projects. This "hands-on" type of learning also increases the students' self-esteem and confidence and instills a sense of pride in accomplishments. The volunteers provide a supportive environment by being patient and by understanding that the students have varying abilities and learn at different rates. The real benefit of this program is the mentoring and bonding that takes place between student and volunteer.
• RSVP Reading Tutor program began in 1998 as a national initiative to ensure that every child reads well and independently by the end of third grade. Since the beginning, volunteers have been reading with first and second grade children in various schools. Most volunteers read with children for 90 minutes once a week. The attention of a caring volunteer results in students not only improving their reading scores on standardized tests, but also increasing their self-esteem as they become more confident readers.
• RSVP BABES (Beginning Alcohol and Addictions Basic Education Studies) is a prevention program using colorful puppets to encourage children to live happy, healthy lives free from abuse. Trained RSVP volunteers using BABES puppets and a script present accurate, nonjudgmental and age-appropriate information to all second grade classes in Portage County. The program is designed to help children by promoting self-esteem, defining peer pressure and practicing good decision-making skills. The program also helps the children understand and develop skills necessary to cope with unhappy situations and stresses the importance of asking for help.
• The innovative RSVP PAWS for Reading program began in October, 2003 and aims to improve the literacy skills of children. RSVP volunteers visit elementary schools classrooms with their own pets students take turns reading to the animal. Research shows that children with poor reading skills and low self-esteem are often more willing to interact with an animal than with another person. It has proven to be a motivator for children who are reluctant to practice reading with an adult. This program is also available to non-RSVP volunteers who have a Certified Pet Therapy dog.
• An RSVP Folk Fair is a demonstration of arts, crafts, hobbies, everyday items and unusual or interesting items-some from "years ago", some more recent. The fairs, offered at local schools, serve as an informative way to show the younger generation what older adults do for hobbies and what life was like when older adults were young.
Examples of folk fair activities include: wood carving by hand and using a lathe, knitting, making homemade ice cream and butter, rock and gem collections, bee keeping, rug braiding, button toys and camera collection. One of the most popular demonstrations from the students' viewpoint is old fashioned clothes washing using metal tubs and a wringer.
• The RSVP Grandparent Visitors Program at the Juvenile Detention Center was established in 1995, shortly after the center opened. The program offers the juveniles a chance to talk with someone who cares, and who is not paid to be there. The RSVP volunteer may be the only adult the juvenile has ever talked with who is not part of the "system" or part of the problem (parents, relatives, etc.). The center director reports that many are neglected and/or abused at home, but more often it is the lack of parental supervision and permissiveness at home and the consequent freedom which has lead to incarceration. In the center, they are forced to do something they don't want to do - perhaps for the first time in their lives. Meeting with RSVP volunteers allows these juveniles an opportunity to release some of their frustration and talk with "grandparents" who will listen without judgment. It gives the juveniles a chance to blow off steam with impunity. The director says he notices a visible difference after the sessions in the juveniles' demeanor, being more relaxed and calm.
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