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Visibility and Advocacy for RSVP

The purpose of NARSVPD is to provide visibility and advocacy for RSVP; a network of communications among RSVP Directors and projects; a vehicle for expression of majority opinion on behalf of RSVP and older Americans to the Corporation for National and Community Service, Congress and other appropriate government and national units.




President - Betty M Ruth, PO Box 852, Athens, AL 35612.  Phone (256) 232-7207

Vice President - Vacant

Secretary - Denise Grace, 16117 Hwy 365 South, Little Rock, AR 72206.  Phone (501) 897-0793

Treasurer - Tammy McGee, 217 Pierson St, Troy, AL 36081.  Phone (334) 566-6158


Michele Hull - 201 State Street, 4Fl, Boone, IA 50036.  Phone (515) 433-7836

Carolyn Finley - 2PMB#573, 710 Hwy 51 BYP, Dyersburg, TN 38024.  Phone (731) 286-7829

Krista Gilmore - 200 Chesapeake Blvd., Suite 2550. Elkton, MD 21921. Phone: (410) 996-8434

Teresa Judd - 210A Education Services Bldg., Morehead, KY 40351.  Phone (606) 783-5124

Robert Pierson - 614 High Street, 2nd Fl., Dedham, MA 02026.  Phone (781) 234-3445

Crystal Petry - 2210 Eastex Freeway, Beaumont, TX 77703.  Phone (409) 899-8444

Grant Consultant

Melodye Kleinman - 1600 S Sawtell Bl, Ste. 330, Los Angeles, CA 90025.  Phone (310) 351-0024

Washington DC Representative

Gene Sofer -


Making A Difference


100's of hours for RSVP


Reminding Congress of who we are and what we do


Educating Congress about RSVP

RSVP Program Highlights

Debbie Danitz, is the RSVP director for McHenry County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program since 1991. She’s been doing her “dream job for 28 years!”  Three McHenry County Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) members, part of the Senior Corps have been a part of the National Service family since the beginning. 

Here’s a little about three RSVP volunteers who along with many others have made an impact in McHenry County since 1993:

Don Blake of McHenry began his volunteer career with RSVP delivering meals to homebound seniors in the McHenry area, he also volunteered at the FISH Food Pantry for many years, and most recently gives his time as a Friendly Visitor.  He has reported 2,000 hours as a volunteer to date.

Ron Gebhard of Island Lake is an active RSVP volunteer!  Ron’s current assignment is a Senior Health Insurance Program (SHIP) Counselor at Northwestern Community Hospital in McHenry and he’s had this assignment for over 10 years.  In addition to this assignment Ron was a Tax Aide through the AARP Program.  To date Ron has reported an amazing 19,000 hours as an RSVP volunteer.

Lastly, 96 year old RSVP member Terese Pisaro of Wauconda has been with us since the beginning and has reported an astounding 15,000 hours to date.  She continues to give her time at the Sparrow’s Nest Resale Shop, in McHenry which raises funds for Home of the Sparrow.  The agency’s vision is as follows “To reduce homelessness among women and children through creative strategies and community partnerships, resulting in lasting self-sufficiency.”

High Fives

Update from our Washingting Representative, Gene Sofer

This is a transcript of the remarks I made during the Convening on June 9.


This Update discusses three topics. First, the proposed CNCS Strategic Plan. Second, the President’s proposed budget and FY 2022 funding issues. Third, the importance of educating elected officials.


Last month, CNCS issued a draft Strategic Plan, intended to guide the Corporation for the next 5 years, and asked for comments. NARSVPD submitted written comments in the form of a letter to Atalaya Sergi, Director of Senior Corps last month. We posted those comments on our web site (


Those of you who have read the comments know that we have serious concerns about the Plan. As Betty wrote, “I am extremely disappointed that the Strategic Plan does not adequately address the future of senior programs and senior volunteering.” 


I’ll briefly outline those concerns:


The Plan focuses on mitigating the effects of COVID. We believe that “thinking only in terms of COVID may be like fighting the last war.” Now is the time to talk more generally about preventing and/or coping with the effects of pandemics, whether COVID or not. Now is when CNCS ought to be thinking about how to protect nursing home residents from the next pandemic, how to mobilize RSVP volunteers to do vaccine education and even give shots if they are appropriately trained, quickly distribute vaccines to rural areas, provide transportation to those who need it to get to medical appointments, and provide human contact to those who may be isolated for medical reasons.  


We were disappointed that there were no specific references to the needs of seniors and the constituents that RSVP serves. The Plan’s focus areas reflect activities that are more associated with AmeriCorps State and National programs, not AmeriCorps Seniors.


NARSVPD is concerned that without specifically acknowledging the service that seniors provide, we will continue to argue about whether performance measures accurately capture what we do with all of the problems that brings with it. It is past time to develop performance measures specific to senior programs. Further, these performance measures should be developed by CNCS in consultation with senior programs.


We want to see the Plan’s goals:


1. define “systemic challenges” broadly enough to include those faced by older Americans: lack of access to health care, the need to live independently for as long as possible, the need to break down social isolation and improve health outcomes for seniors and promoting healthy alternatives (like bone builders). Many of the people who face these challenges are poor, but others are not. But their problems are no less real.


2. Explicitly include the need to expand the number of senior volunteers. The Corps Act envisions 100,000 AmeriCorps members. CNCS should set a goal of 500,000 senior volunteers, the majority of whom inevitably would be in RSVP.


3. Include making it easier to serve by breaking down existing barriers to service like too much bureaucracy in the agency and investments in technology and social media to help programs recruit volunteers and offer them meaningful volunteer opportunities.   


4. Recognize how RSVP helps to achieve the Plan’s goals. For example, RSVP can support the goal of using service to build and retain a high-quality workforce as long as it is clear that the goal includes such things as teaching literacy to adults, tutoring in English as a second language (ESL) programs, helping with resume preparation, helping aspiring entrepreneurs create small businesses, providing tax preparation assistance and teaching financial literacy. A narrow focus on skills training doesn't recognize all that is needed to promote a high performing workforce.  Finally, one could argue that the way to build a vibrant workforce is to improve education at all levels (something that school-based RSVP volunteers do).


5. Include performance indicators include specific references to the things that RSVP does and the people we serve. Some 4.9 million adults, 65 and above lived in poverty in 2019, depending on how one measures poverty. The "elderly" or "older Americans" should be added to the list of those in poverty. Reducing social isolation, improving health outcomes through reducing food insecurity, promoting human interaction, and keeping people out of nursing homes should be explicit goals.


6. Include funding for the Silver Scholarship program to help recruit and retain senior volunteers. Equity among programs means that senior volunteers should receive support for additional education, just as other AmeriCorps members do.


7. Describe how CNCS intends to actually create "unique public-private partnership" Will CNCS designate a staff person to it? Use PSA's, host conferences? NARSVPD has advocated for fewer required national days of service. It is one thing to strive to increase the number of people who participate in the limited national days of service, it is another to increase the number of participants by increasing the number of such days.


8. Recognize that the effective stewardship of federal resources should be interpreted as referring to how CNCS manages itself rather than simply emphasizing compliance among programs.  CNCS should acknowledge that many of its systems don't work and commit to fixing them.  It should commit, as well, to improving staff responsiveness to the field and ensuring that the regional offices (of which there are too few) communicate the same message across the field. CNCS can measure the success of the strategic plan by establishing objectives of growing the number of RSVP programs, increasing the number of volunteers, improving customer satisfaction, and reducing the number of relinquishments?



President’s Budget and FY 2022 Appropriations


The Biden budget asked for $1.21 billion for CNCS an increase of $89.2 million over the FY21 enacted level. These are very modest increases, although it should be noted that Congress recently passed the American Rescue Plan which included almost $1 billion for AmeriCorps, including $30 million for senior programs. CNCS has yet to allocate these funds.


Foster Grandparents Program: $130,914,000, increase of $12.1M   

Senior Companion Program: $58,518,000 increase of $5.66M  

Retired Senior Volunteer Program: $55,105,000, increase of $1.75M  


The President's budget request for CNCS would support an estimated 175,000 AmeriCorps Seniors and increase the stipend for low-income seniors participating in the Foster Grandparent and Senior Companion Programs from $3.00 to $3.50 per hour.   


With regard to RSVP, the Budget proposal level will support an estimated 5 new programs and 1000 volunteers. 

Presidential budgets indicate Administration’s priorities. In the coming months, Congress will act to determine funding levels for all federal programs for FY22. As we reported last week, the House Appropriations Committee is expected to move first and they have scheduled subcommittee markups between Thursday, June 24 and Monday, July 12.  


Educating Elected Officials


Elected officials need to be educated about how the policy goals they enact are achieved and how well the money they appropriate is being spent. NARSVPD tries to tell your story to the Corporation, the rest of the Administration, and on Capitol Hill. While we educate officials, we also need your help. Here are four ways that you can educate your elected officials and support our efforts:


  1. As you reopen, extend invitations to your elected officials to visit your sites so they can see what you do, how you do it, and whom you serve. If they can’t visit you, you should visit them. It always helps to have written material to share.

  2. If you can’t visit them, write to them. Just be careful to follow CNCS practices and guidelines.

  3. Use social media to promote your programs.

  4. Take advantage of opportunities to submit comments to CNCS. Government agencies often count the number of comments as well as read their content. Getting 100 comments instead of 1 has an effect. Commenting on the Strategic Plan is one such opportunity.

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