Yvonne Evans always knew she would do something after retiring from her career as a civil servant. “Something that matters,” she says.
She did not want to start working again right away, so she searched the Internet for volunteer opportunities.
“Something about RSVP resonated with me,” the Springfield resident says. “It was the 55 or better, and I like that term ‘or better,’ so I thought it was perfect.” So she signed up for one of RSVP’s free info sessions.
Yvonne then worked with RSVP-Northern Virginia volunteer specialist Carly Hubicki who personally matched Yvonne with some ideal volunteer opportunities.
Yvonne says that if it had not been for Carly, she is not sure she would have stuck with it (volunteering). “Carly really helped me find something that I was interested in,” Yvonne says.
A program of Volunteer Fairfax, Volunteer Alexandria and Volunteers Arlington, RSVP-Northern Virginia, is the region’s largest volunteer network for people 55-years-old and better. RSVP provides free and personalized support to area seniors seeking their ideal and meaningful service opportunities.
Yvonne volunteers her time with many of RSVP’s partners that support seniors and others in need by supporting United Community Ministries of Alexandria, Fairfax County’s Volunteer Solutions and The Shepherd’s Center of Fairfax-Burke, for whom she drives seniors to medical appointments, helping them to “age in place.”
A Wall Street Journal story published in February referenced studies that found that “loneliness is worse for health than obesity or inactivity and is as lethal as smoking 15 cigarettes a day”. The same story references a recent Harvard University study that found the cost of loneliness for Medicare is $6.7 billion a year.
RSVP volunteers who support nonprofits like Meals on Wheels, Volunteer Solutions and the area Shepherd Centers help bridge a tremendous gap for seniors living alone, according to Carly. Yvonne says the social aspects of these programs are critical, “The human connection that is made during those rides is incredible. A lot of these seniors don’t have anyone to talk to and they always welcome a friendly face.”
“Some (of the seniors she drives) are repeat clients and I really look forward to seeing them and some of them look forward to seeing me too,” she says. “I get more out of it than they do. It is really wonderful to participate (in the program).”
In addition to supporting many of RSVP’s partners, Yvonne is a regular at RSVP’s monthly group service projects and meet and greets.
Yvonne says she enjoys the opportunity to socialize with other volunteers.
Her first group service project left a lasting impression.
“The thing that resonated with me that day was we that made care packages for homeless people that included water, granola bars and heat warmers and sanitizers, things that we take for granted. What was also touching that in addition to the care packages we made that day we also provided a hand written statement to lift the spirits of those we were serving,” Yvonne says. “There is such a great need,” she says.
Why is volunteering with RSVP important to Yvonne?
“I worked as a civil servant for 40 years. There is always something to do at home,” says Yvonne, who has a husband, a large family and a dog. “I could be busy 24-7 but I want to do something that matters.”
“The reason I love RSVP is because they tell you we will find something that works for you. There is something for everyone,” she says. “If you sign up for something and it’s not your thing, they will find something else. You can be as busy as you want. It can be on your schedule and you can make it work and you can contribute to your communities in ways that are very fulfilling.”
RSVP’s Newest Engagement Leader
Yvonne has now been an RSVP volunteer for about a year. In February she became the program’s newest volunteer engagement leader, a role that includes taking part in RSVP outreach activities and helping coordinate volunteers at larger events, such as the Northern Virginia Senior Olympics each September.
“We are thrilled to add Yvonne to our leadership group,” Carly says. “She is a terrific spokesperson for RSVP and for senior volunteerism.”
RSVP engagement leaders are members who have excelled in sharing their time and talents with the community and seek to bring their volunteering to the next level.
“I see the benefits of staying engaged, staying active I get more out of it than the seniors I help,” Yvonne says.
“Volunteering will keep you healthy it will keep you young. You will make connections, you will serve others. It’s a lovely experience and I think the volunteers get more out of it than the people we serve,” Yvonne says.
To hear a complete podcast of an interview with Yvonne Evans speaking with RSVP’s Carly Hubicki and Rob Paine that aired originally on local iHeart stations please click here. The lead photo of this blog post features Yvonne with Carly Hubicki and Rob Paine of RSVP at iHeart Studios in Rockville, Md.
RSVP offers more than 300 meaningful opportunities that include helping seniors age in place, assisting local veterans, and helping prepare communities for disasters. RSVP also recruits volunteers for various community events. RSVP volunteers enjoy flexible schedules, free accident and liability insurance while serving, optional mileage and meal reimbursement and are invited to volunteer group projects and social gatherings.
To sign up for an upcoming free info session, email RSVP Volunteer Specialist Carly Hubicki at firstname.lastname@example.org or call RSVP at 703-403-5360. To learn more about RSVP, please visit www.rsvpnova.org.