In 1972, the San Luis Obispo office for RSVP — Retired and Senior Volunteer Program — opened for business to match people older than 55 to a variety of activities.
The Inn at Morro Bay hosted one of three area brunches celebrating the 40th recognition for RSVP volunteers of the Central Coast.
San Luis Obispo County supervisors; state Sen. Sam Blakeslee, R-San Luis Obispo; and U.S. Rep. Lois Capps, D-Santa Barbara, recognized the 182,000 hours tallied in 2011 — valued at $4.26 million — for support services rendered by senior volunteers.
For example, 140 volunteers donated 13,000 hours to 10 police departments; 50 volunteers visited frail elderly weekly; more than 220 helped at parks, hiking trails, museums and recreation departments; 150 individuals gave up 20,000 hours to gather, distribute or home-deliver 5 million pounds of food.
Most volunteers say they are the true beneficiaries, and for good reason. According to Harvard Medical School psychiatrist and researcher Dr. George Vaillant, it’s crucial to remain connected to life as one ages.
The RSVP website — www.rsvpcentralcoast.org — reflects, “Active involvement in solving community problems can stimulate positive thinking.”
RSVP Director Marie Brinkmeyer recognized volunteers with 300 to more than 1,500 accumulated hours and asked why they volunteered.
Patricia McKaye of Cayucos and Ted Hanson of Arroyo Grande were presented the 2012 Carol Conway Spirit of Volunteerism Awards. Both emulate Conway’s legacy as an early RSVP director to inspire volunteers and serve as a role model.
Hanson serves at multiple locations, including Woods Humane Society, Pacific Wildlife Care and Veterans Services.
Cayucos Senior Citizens Inc. President Betsy Watts nominated McKaye for dedicating 1,000 hours a year for 12 years as manager of the volunteers for the senior group’s thrift store and activities center.
Brinkmeyer remarked: “They so take care of one another. We patterned the Good Neighbor Program after Cayucos (Senior Citizens).”
“I’m there because of the people I work with,” McKaye said. “Bonnie Allen and Ray Guillen coordinate the weekly food distribution; Mike and Doreen Cavataio pick up food from the grocery stores weekly; Pat Machen, Loretta Scholfield, Betty Hall and David Robinson organize the thrift donations so our board can donate thousands each year to our community, especially Cayucos School.
“Trudy Minott’s group does crafts,” McKaye added. “My receptionists keep the doors open six days a week, and I especially thank my friend, Arley Robinson, who had the idea years ago for the thrift store.”
Northern District Volunteer of the Year Ann Fletcher said about the Atascadero Fun Club: “Behind every successful program is a team. Volunteering comes from the heart.”
Machen and Scholfield of Cayucos agreed that volunteering fulfilled their lives.
Reach Judy Salamacha at firstname.lastname@example.org or 801-1422.