The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, located on the University of Minnesota Crookston campus, recently paid honor to this past year’s 562 active NW Minnesota volunteers!  Employing a different and creative recognition strategy for the year, RSVP staff compiled a recognition newsletter, highlighting volunteer hours, awards, plus a thank you gift of a book of 10 forever stamps.

    Replacing this year’s annual Recognition Banquet on the UMC Campus was a difficult decision, but one that made sense considering increasing costs and only 1/3 of RSVP volunteers able to attend.  

    The newsletter, composed with a “postal theme”, allowed each and every volunteer to be honored.

    “The time and energy our volunteers donate cannot be taken lightly,” states RSVP Director Tammy Frohlich.  “Recognizing volunteer achievements and thanking them is one of our greatest priorities and pleasures.”  Two of the past year’s  greatest achievements come from volunteers Judy Semeling, Halstad (1,663 hours donated) and Elmyrna Kaupang, Winger (1,017 hours donated).

    Monetarily, the 65,284 RSVP volunteer hours during the past year equates to a savings of $1,660,172 for federal, state and county entities.  

    Moreover, impactful programming such as RSVP’s Groceries to Go, Home Delivered Meals, Handyman and Stay Active and Independent for Life senior exercise classes is keeping regional seniors healthy and living independently! Perhaps the greatest benefits, however, are for the volunteers themselves; Consistent research shows that donating time for a worthy cause keeps older adults healthier and happier.

    Among the many volunteer achievements throughout the year, the following were specifically highlighted:

Zip Award (Zip stands for Zone Improvement Plan)                                                           • Alecia Hunt, TRF Food Shelf Station Manager “creating change and improvement at food shelf!”

In-Transit Award                                                                                                             • Stuart Halvorson, Roseau (Most hours doing Home Delivered Meals)                                 • Cristina Campos, EGF

Rural Delivery Award
(Greatest number of hours by SAIL exercise trainer)                                                           • Lois Barth, Warroad

First Class Award (Best comment about a volunteer)                                                         • Fredryce Sundby, Warren
    “I couldn’t live without her; she’s my angel!”

Mailbox Award (Handyman with most hours)                                                                      • John Wahlberg, Roseau

Barcode Award (Barcodes facilitate transportation)    
    • Red Lake County Committee on Aging

Delivery Award (Volunteers with most Grocery to Go hours)    
    • Donna Malarkey, Crookston
    • Barb Erickson, Roseau

Carrier Award    
    • Jean Rains, Fosston
“Carrying good news and comfort to Hospice families and patients!”

Envelope Glue Award (Helping to keep things together during transition)                             • Ann Marie Zizzo, TRF Food Shelf

Mint Award (Originality)                                                                                                  • Bonnie Skanson, Fertile
“Bonnie wrote and directed a play for her Reading Buddy Class in Fertile!”

Bulk Mail Award (4000 lifetime hours!!)                                                                              • Joanne Rude, Shelly
    • Arlette Solom, Roseau
    • Alta Sullerud, Fertile

Express Mail Award (Instrumental in quick planning for G2G Program and volunteer stations in Ada)
    • Linda Visser, Ada

Largest number of volunteers hours reported this year:
    • Judy Semling, Norman County 1,663

Largest number of volunteer positions served this year:
    • Elaine Bertils, Polk Co.
    • Janet Kujava, Marshall Co. 8

Volunteer with greatest number years of RSVP Service:
    • Betty Conkins, Polk County, nearly 29 yrs.

RSVP Station with greatest # of Volunteers:
    • RiverView Health, Polk County 69

RSVP Station with a waiting list for volunteers:
    • Loaves and Fishes Food Shelf, Fosston

Number of Counties who financially support RSVP volunteers:
    • Polk, Roseau, Kittson, Red Lake and Norman.  THANK YOU! 5

    RSVP continues to promote volunteerism through presentations, recruitments, and implementing their impact programs in communities with demonstrated needs; most recently, eight Groceries to Go volunteers were recruited and trained in Ada, restoring a much needed and relied upon service for area seniors. RSVP offers a variety of service opportunities with flexibility to match.  

    RSVP Please contact Director Tammy Frohlich (218-281-8289) tsykes@umn.edu, or Coordinator Jennifer Erdmann (218-281-8288) jkerdman@umn.edu, to join America’s largest network of volunteers.

    RSVP is a Senior Corp program, administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), the federal agency for volunteering, service and civic engagement.  CNCS engages millions of Americans in citizen service through its AmeriCorps and Senior Corp programs and leads the nation’s volunteer and service efforts.  For more information, visit NationalService.gov.