Commentary by Janice Ayres: RSVP volunteers of all ages helping across Nevada |

Commentary by Janice Ayres: RSVP volunteers of all ages helping across Nevada

Janice Ayres
For the Nevada Appeal

I have been asked many times, “Who volunteers for you, Janice?” Also, “How old are they and what do they do?”

For the fiscal year July 1, 2009, through June 30, 2010, RSVP had 1,174 active volunteers in Nevada’s 15 rural counties. Of these, 266 were 54 or younger; 186 were ages 55-63; 403 were 64-75; 229 were 75-84; and 60 were 85 or older. Thirty volunteers’ ages are unknown.

Clearly the largest group of volunteers are people between the ages of 64 and 74; however, I am amazed at the number (20 percent) of people between 75 and 84 years of age. And we have more than 60 people in their late 80s and early 90s who are still going strong.

As to gender, 723 are female; 388 are male and 63 didn’t indicate their gender. Racially, whites account for 87 percent of volunteers (1,020) and the remainder from various racial groups.

The largest number of volunteers are located in Carson City (399); the next is Lincoln County at 277. Nye County has 114 and the other counties vary between three and 71 volunteers. Some counties are smaller than others in population and have fewer volunteer opportunities; however, all volunteers are appreciated.

Overall, 1,174 volunteers donated 130,156 hours of their time to assist their respective communities. One volunteer hour has been valued at $20.85 by the Independent Sector in Washington, D.C. Using this figure, RSVP’s volunteers gave a $2,713,753 gift of manpower to their communities last year.

Volunteers perform all kinds of wonderful work to help others. They work as home companions, Lifeline installers, drivers for medical appointments, respite for caregivers, exercise leaders, and others too numerous to list. Also, volunteers assist more than 300 other non-profit and state and local government agencies with manpower.

Volunteers say they get more out of it than they give. Just the feeling that they helped someone have a better day or better quality of life puts a smile on their face and lets them know they are still contributing members of their communities.

RSVP has various annual recognitions for the volunteers including luncheons, dinners, certificates and pins as acknowledgment of their many contributions. Each county also has a Christmas party for volunteers. RSVP volunteers are covered by five kinds of insurance and can receive out-of-pocket expenses.

Be sure to read “Volunteer Connection” in each Sunday’s edition of the Nevada Appeal for volunteer opportunities in Carson City. Remember, the latest medical reports indicate that people who volunteer are healthier, happier and live longer. Cheers!

• Janice Ayres is executive director of Nevada Rural Counties RSVP Program.