The national Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) is one of three entities that compose Senior Corps and is a volunteer network operated by the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), a federal agency. CNCS follows a mission of seeking to have the greatest possible impact in the communities it sponsors programs in. Our local RSVP program emphasizes aligning volunteers with community impact priorities, such as poverty issues, education, health, and environmental stewardship efforts. In this way, we seek to help volunteers and organizations achieve the greatest positive impact in critical areas. The goal is to support and strengthen these important local programs, which are critical to the health of a community.
These efforts are outlined as ‘focus areas’ which outline the nationally held critical activities to further local efforts. Focus Area activities are based on outcomes and people who are actively served by volunteers and their worksite. While there are a range of focus areas in Cascade County we have accessed our community needs to be in the following areas:
Healthy Futures focuses on programs that help communities and special populations with unmet needs related to health and well-being. These programs are vital due to the startling realities of citizens who face life without access to services to keep them healthy and active in society. Nearly half of U.S. adults don’t get needed preventive health services, too many of our nation’s children and youth have unhealthy eating and exercise habits that will impact their future health, and many of those over 65 need physical assistance to live independently in their homes during their golden years.
Efforts in these issues have a long standing impact on society and in communities. Better access to preventative care results in few emergency room visits easing the strain of the local healthcare infrastructure and lessens the long term financial burden of health care on low income families. Helping seniors continue to live happily in their own homes by delivering healthy meals or assisting with transportation represents a savings of millions of dollars in the costs of nursing homes each year to taxpayers and boosts the quality of life for seniors. Healthier children represent a better future: children who are active and eating right face fewer health issues which eases the strain on the medical infrastructure as well as increasing the child’s quality of life.
Local Healthy Future Volunteer Opportunities: Meals on Wheels, F.I.S.H., Commodity Supplemental Food Programs (CSFP), Family Promise, City County Health Department, Get Fit Great Falls, Peace Place, Great Falls Library Seed Exchange, Belt Senior Center and Belt Senior Center Transportation Program.
Economic Opportunity focuses on the ongoing fight against poverty and efforts to help move families out of poverty towards brighter futures. The Corporation for National and Community Service chose economic opportunity as a focus as it represents a constant need in communities all across the United States. In 2011, 22 percent of U.S. children lived in poverty and it isn’t much better in Cascade County with 21% of local children living in poverty.
Local Economic Opportunity Volunteer Opportunities: Annual tax assistant clinics with Rural Dynamics Incorporated.
Education focuses on programs that provide the academic support and encouragement for at-risk children to thrive and succeed. The strategy is simple: create the conditions that make children and youth want to learn, and give them the opportunity to achieve. Our volunteers work with local programs and initiatives to provide positive role models for young people, serve as tutors and mentors to instill a positive attitude towards their education.
Education Volunteer Opportunities: Scottish Rite Language Clinic, Boys and Girls Club tutors and mentors, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Girl Scouts, in school readers, Family Promise tutors and Read to Me Initiative.
Veterans and Military Families is based around serving those who served us. In Cascade County we are fortunate to have Malmstrom Air Force Base and be the home of many veterans. These programs cover a wide range including supporting families with active duty members, recruiting Veterans into local service opportunities and increasing access to benefits and care.
Local Veterans and Military Families Volunteer Opportunities: Opportunities, Inc. (Stand Down for Vets)