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RSVP program seeking volunteers

Retirees check on the elderly who live alone

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Willie Robinson, a volunteer with Toledo Police Department’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol, calls elderly residents who live alone to check on their well-being. He says it’s a way to ‘pay it forward.’

THE BLADE/KATIE RAUSCH
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The Toledo Police Department’s Retired Senior Volunteer Patrol, which is often called RSVP and plays a big role in checking on homebound and at-risk seniors, is recruiting volunteers.

The next training session is 8:30 a.m. to noon from March 11 to 15.

Volunteers, who are 55 and older, provide well-being checks for residents who might otherwise be overlooked.

The program has been in existence for more than a decade, after being initiated by the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio Inc. and the police department.

With headquarters at the Ottawa Park District Station, volunteers use decommissioned patrol cars to visit isolated, older adults.

Willie Robinson, a program volunteer since 2009, visits clients three to four times per month.

He calls it an opportunity to “pay it forward.”

“It’s positive,” he said.

“You help somebody. That’s what it’s about.”

Pete Straube another volunteer, is a group leader for the program, along with Mr. Robinson and two others.

“I had two parents that were in a nursing home situation,” he said.

“You talk to people at the nursing homes, and you find out how many people don’t have anybody come and see them.”

Sometimes, “we’re the only ones they see all week,” he said.

In addition to checking up on a client’s welfare, the volunteers provide a social outlet.

“A lot of people like to reminisce about the past,” he said.

And that can be enjoyable to all involved.

“It’s a two-way street, we get a lot of satisfaction,” Mr. Straube said.

“People are just nice and friendly,” Mr. Robinson said, about the clients he visits.

Program director Sally Davies said the volunteers are the “eyes and ears for these seniors.”

Homebound seniors enroll in the program voluntarily by calling the Area Office on Aging.

Clients must be living independently.

Ms. Davies said she gets many volunteers from word of mouth.

She seeks out more by speaking to church and community groups, requesting a 12-hour-per-month commitment.

All volunteers are sent out in teams of two, for safety.

Currently, the program has about 100 clients who have requested visits.

Mr. Straube and Mr. Robinson agree that volunteering for the program allows them to meet people they might not have otherwise met.

“A lot of times you have an ability to impact people you never thought you would,” Mr. Straube said.

“You get to be out and about, instead of sitting at home,” Mr. Robinson added.

To apply for the volunteer program, contact Jackie Simpson at the Area Office on Aging of Northwestern Ohio Inc., by calling 419-725-7031.

All volunteers must successfully complete a background investigation.

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