Giving Back

Union County Volunteers 55 Years and Older Needed for RSVP Program

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left to right: Jill Dispenza and Nathalie Garcia pose in the community garden in the front yard of Jewish Family Services. The garden, taken care of by volunteers, produces fruits and vegetables for low-income families.  Credits: Fran Sullivan
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ELIZABETH, NJ – Calling all 55-year-olds and older residents, retired, semi-retired, or still working, your skills are needed.

Jewish Family Services, located in Elizabeth, has resurrected in Union County the dormant Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 years and older. According to a recent statement, “Volunteers can utilize their skills and talents they’ve acquired over the years or develop new ones while serving in a variety of volunteer activities within their community.”

The RSVP needs volunteers to work in all Union County municipalities and is currently focusing on four areas, although assignments can be tailored to the individual:

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Capacity building: Volunteers are needed to assist non-profits with volunteer recruitment, training and management functions.  

Education: Tutor and mentors are needed to work with elementary school children and/or assist in the classroom.

Healthy Futures has two goals: Activities that will enable older adults to maintain their independence, such as companionship and food delivery. The second goal is food and obesity where volunteers are needed to develop and maintain gardens as well as offer educational opportunities to low-income individuals. Volunteers are also needed to serve with food distribution in emergency food banks.

Disaster Services: RSVP will train volunteers to give information about the advance preparations needed for natural and manmade disasters.  Volunteers are also needed to create disaster kits and answer the phone in the call center.

“We can open it up and place volunteers in something they are interested in that uses their past skills and interests,” said Nathalie Garcia, RSVP project coordinator. “I try to place people where their interests are.”

Added Jill Dispenza, coordinator of marketing and social media, “You can volunteer one hour a month or 40 hours a week. You can commit to as much as you want. This touches all of Union County, and it’s an opportunity to give back to the county on your schedule.”

To volunteer or for more information about RSVP, contact Nathalie Garcia at (908) 352-8375; email NGarcia@JFSCentralNJ.org; or visit www.rsvpofunioncounty.

 

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