RSVP program ends in Warren, Forest counties

In Warren and Forest Counties, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program is no more.

Farley Wright, director of the Area Agency on Aging explained, “We had noticed over the years reduced funding, with the same statistical requirements,” to qualify for the funding.

He and Sue Himes, director of Community Development, agree that the federal program has become un-wieldy, especially for rural areas, and is on its way out. She said, “During the next fiscal year, we expect a cut by two-thirds for all Senior Core Programs.”

Wright said the boards of directors for Experience, Incorporated and the Allegheny Community Center supported the recommendation not to apply for the funding this year, so as of July 1 they are independent of RSVP requirements and funding. “We will continue to run volunteer programs to meet the needs of the community,” he said.

Himes added that programs like the Toy Shoppe, the greenhouse program at Warren State Hospital VITA tax assistance and the community centers in Warren and Forest Counties will remain.

“We will probably form a new advisory group to consider and prioritized the needs of the community,” Wright said. He believes that some type of social interaction, with hobbies and community connections are needed for seniors, including a mentoring program that puts experienced seniors in touch with youths.

He also noted that with more and more baby boomers entering programs, “We need volunteer equity more than ever.”

Another benefit of leaving the RSVP program is the removal of the age stipulation of 55 for program participants.

“We view this as a positive move. Change is good,” he said.