You don’t just come in and sit. If people are fully invested in a project, the outcome is much more rewarding and successful. None of this would be possible without our volunteers.
Picture above shows OV Senior Center Director Mary Jones (holding the RSVP sign), with some of the 27 RSVP volunteers.
To say the OV Senior Center in the tiny rural town of Shinglehouse, Pennsylvania (population 1, 081) is a hub of constant activity is an understatement. While the center offers traditional services such as dine-in meals, games and activities, its real claim to fame is the way Director Mary Jones and the members venture outside their doors to support a wide variety of important community projects. “You don’t just come in and sit,” she says.
Jones believes the secret to success is giving the center members – 43 to be exact – ownership of all the goings-on. “If people are fully invested in a project, the outcome is much more rewarding and successful,” she says. That’s important considering Jones is the only person on the center’s payroll.
As a new volunteer station for the Experience Works Senior Corps Volunteer Program (RSVP), she turned over the complete operation of the center’s food bank to RSVP volunteers. Approximately 27 RSVP volunteers rotate schedules to perform all duties associated with keeping the food bank open three days a week –a much-needed community outreach program serving an average of 50-60 families every month. Collecting food donations, stocking shelves, and coming up with extra goodies for families to select like baking items, toiletries, and fresh produce. RSVP volunteers also assist in delivering nutritious homebound meals.
The relationship with RSVP frees-up other volunteers and Jones for the center’s many other projects like collecting children’s books for the local library; organizing the annual community Christmas parade where they give out hats, gloves, and socks; making quilts to distribute to burnout victims; and providing meals and activities, plus financial donations they raise through community raffles, to two local Veterans Programs (LEEK and Healing Waters). Jones, a former Potter County Commissioner, is grateful for so many dedicated volunteers. “None of this would be possible without them.” she said.