Why rattle around the house? Make a difference

Walla Walla RSVP offers a variety of ways to make a significant difference by volunteering.

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WALLA WALLA - If you'd like to try something new, volunteering might fit the bill. You can put your talents to use, meet people, make friends and give assistance to others at the same time. RSVP, at the Center at The Park, 720 Sprague Ave., is the local clearing house for numerous volunteer opportunities. The organization matches up needs in the community with the skills of willing volunteers. RSVP Director Peggy Needham said the organization has plenty of new volunteer stations, organizations needing help, as well as new volunteer opportunities. You can still work on traditional types of volunteer work or branch out and try some new projects.

Walla Walla RSVP is a local part of a national program, part of the Corporation for National and Community Service, operating with federal funding. RSVP is a clearing house for organizations matching them up with talented volunteers. Priorities for service have been pinpointed as education, healthy futures, clean energy and the environment, veterans and economic opportunity. This means plenty of variety in volunteer possibilities.

According to Needham, the organization needs artistic volunteers, photographers, coordinators and more. Schedules are flexible and not a lot of time is required. You can donate as many or as few hours per week as you desire. But all these hours add up to a tremendous amount of community service.

"We have logged in more than 90,000 hours of work done by volunteers over the age of 55," Needham said. Another factor is that RSVP appreciates the talents of volunteers of all ages.

Now there are many more options for volunteers, the opportunities are just expanding and expanding. "We still have the traditional things like Project Warm Up and working in the food banks. But now there are many more types of volunteer positions needed," she said.

"We are also looking for veterans interested in mentoring veterans coming home. They could help in emergency management and work with veterans. We need people to help to do that.

"You need to think outside the typical mindset. It's not having to be somewhere from 3-5 p.m. every week. There are so many different ways to volunteer. For example, a photographer can download the photos anytime and e-mail them. We're just matching skills with where they're needed," she said.

Another factor in helping make RSVP successful in addition to the flexible hours and interesting work, is that seniors interacting with other seniors is very important, according to Needham. There's plenty of common ground and everyone benefits: the volunteer, the organization and the community. "We will have to increase our efforts to reach out," Needham said.

RSVP is also recruiting members for the board. Professionals from local businesses, health care, disaster preparedness, employment services and veteran's services are encouraged to participate.

For information about RSVP, call 509-527-3775.

Karlene Ponti can be reached by calling 509-526-8324 or by e-mail at karleneponti@wwub.com.

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