The purpose of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is to provide meaningful opportunities to persons 55 years and above to participate more fully in the life of the community through volunteer service. The program matches the extensive and considerable knowledge, skills, and experience of this vital and rapidly growing age group with addressing the identified needs and unresolved issues within the community in six focus areas: Education, Healthy Futures, Economic Opportunity, Disaster Preparedness, Environmental Sustainability, and Veterans and Military Families.
In 1961, the White House Conference on Aging called attention to the continuing need of older people for useful activity. One of the outcomes of the Conference was the passage of the Older Americans Act of 1965. In that same year, the Community Service Society of New York launched a pilot project on Staten Island which involved a small group of older adults in volunteer service to the communities. This pilot project, named SERVE (Serve and Enrich Retirement by Volunteer Experience) was the precursor to the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). The success of this project, which demonstrated beyond doubt the value of older volunteers, led to an amendment to the Older Americas Act, creating RSVP in 1969.
The program launched nationally in 1971 with federal appropriations of $500,000.00, initially funding 11 programs throughout the country. Today, there are 627 chapters nationwide with more than 208,000 volunteers. Currently, RSVP in Pinellas and Pasco Counties has nearly 200 active volunteers working in a variety of not-for-profit agencies and “People-Helping” organizations. Last year, these volunteers gave close to 200,000 hours in volunteer service, totaling more than $4.3 million in in-kind labor donations to the “Volunteers Stations” in which they serve. RSVP of Pinellas County was started in 1977, and, since its beginning, has been locally sponsored and administered by Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc. (POC). RSVP of Pasco County launched in 2015 and is also sponsored by the POC.
The Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) – the federal agency that funds all national service programs – provides 70% of the operating costs of RSVP in Pinellas and Pasco Counties. The remainder of the necessary funding for the program must be raised by the program through community-based fundraising and individual partner support. Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc.is an IRS 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization and all donations in support of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program are tax deductible and go directly to assist RSVP’s volunteers.
Any individual – 55 years of age and above – is eligible for membership in RSVP. There is no limit to the types of activities that members can perform, and there are no minimum requirements regarding the frequency of volunteer work, or the number of hours of service that are given on a regular basis. RSVP volunteers choose how, where, and how often they want to serve, with commitments ranging from a few hours to 40 hours per week. Volunteers receive pre-service orientation, training from the organization where they will serve, and supplemental insurance while on duty. RSVP volunteers do not receive monetary incentives, but sponsoring organizations may reimburse them for some costs incurred during service.
Benefits of becoming a member of RSVP include: mileage reimbursement while volunteering (if needed); free liability and accident insurance protection while on the job; on-going recognition and awards; an annual recognition luncheon; quarterly newsletters, and regular informational and educational materials; and the satisfaction, fulfillment, and enhanced personal wellness that come from knowing that one really IS making a lasting difference in the world.
Based on the immediate needs of the communities we serve, RSVP of Pinellas County currently gear volunteer efforts towards activities that will:
- Increase the ability for older adults and persons with disabilities to live independently in their homes;
- Improve nutrition for individuals and families experiencing food insecurity;
- Provide stability to economically disadvantaged individuals and families who are homeless or at imminent risk of becoming homeless;
- Improve children’s safety, welfare and overall health; and
- Address the comprehensive needs of a large and extensive veteran and military community.
RSVP Community Partners and Volunteer Locations in Pinellas County
- Abilities Foundation
- Alpha House of Pinellas
- Bay Pines Veterans Administration Healthcare System
- Big Brothers Big Sisters of Tampa Bay
- Boley Centers, Inc.
- Celebrate Outreach
- Christmas Toy Shop Project
- City of St. Petersburg Sunshine Center Office on Aging
- Clothes to Kids, Inc.
- Empath Health / Suncoast Hospice
- Feeding Tampa Bay
- Florida Dream Center
- Guardian Ad Litem
- Gulfcoast Jewish Family and Community Services
- Homeless Empowerment Program (HEP)
- Mease Countryside Hospital
- Mease Dunedin Hospital
- Mercy Keepers
- Neighborly Care Network / Meals on Wheels
- Pinellas County Schools
- Pinellas Opportunity Council
- Religious Community Services (RCS) Food Bank
- Salvation Army of St. Petersburg
- Vincent de Paul CARES
- Petersburg Free Clinic
- Tarpon Springs Shepard Center
- YMCA Reads!
The staff of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program are always available to be of service to you. We welcome questions and feedback so please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
For questions regarding RSVP of Pinellas, please contact:
RSVP Program Director (727) 823-4101, Ext. 126
Pinellas Opportunity Council, Inc. would like to thank the following businesses for their continued support of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program:
- Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS)
- Duke Energy
- Grand Villas Senior Living Community
- Fields Galley Private Foundation
- Millennium Lawn, Landscape and Nursery
- Neighborly Care Network
- WellCare Health Plans