VOLUNTEERS: Assistance needed

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I am a volunteer with The Area Agency on Aging. I volunteer with three divisions that fall under that heading; Friendship Corp., the RSVP Advisory Council and the Senior Medicare Patrol. Two of those volunteer positions fall under RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program).

I was surprised and upset when I received two letters last week telling me that our sponsor, North Idaho College, had opted not to renew the current federal grant through the Corporation for National and Community Service and could no longer pay for salaries and expenses associated with RSVP.

As I read in Fridayís Coeur díAlene Press, the reason given was because NIC had to pay $22,350 over the amount the grant provided them for this program. For $22,350, North Idaho will lose a valuable program that benefits thousands of seniors in the five northern counties. These programs include volunteers to Adult Protection Services, Ombudsman and Long Term Care, Legal Aid, Transportation, Home Delivered Meals, Caregiver Services, Senior Companions, and Friendship Corp., just to mention a few.

Many of us will continue to volunteer, but I can tell you without a coordinator to meet with us and organize the volunteers, many will quit or lose their momentum. The coordinator for Friendship Corp. would meet with us quarterly and provide workshops for initial and ongoing training. The same happened with our coordinator for the RSVP Advisory Council a dedicated and invaluable leader. These paid positions will go away with no sponsor or federal grant.

I can understand the position of North Idaho College; they cannot fund programs that canít pay their way, but I sincerely pray that some agency within our area will step up and provide the funding needed to continue these invaluable services to all the seniors who now benefit, and could benefit from them in the future.

SHARON McINTURFF

Volunteer

RSVP Advisory Council

Friendship Corp.

Senior Medicare Patrol

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