Story and Photos by Rob Paine, staff, RSVP-Northern Virginia
When Beverly Ritz retired, she says, “I found I needed something, I need to do something.”
Throughout her career, working most recently with Delta Airlines, the Arlington resident discovered she enjoyed working with seniors, but beyond work and raising a family, “there just did not seem to be time” to volunteer she says.
Then one day two years ago, she saw a notice at a senior center in Arlington about an upcoming RSVP-Northern Virginia info session.
She signed up and has been with RSVP ever since. “I just love it,” Beverly says.
In addition to being a regular at RSVP’s monthly group service projects that are held throughout RSVP’s service area, Beverly also volunteers with her local Shepherd’s Center in Arlington and is in training to be a volunteer counselor for Medicare.
Beverly enjoys the many benefits of RSVP membership but for her, the flexibility in scheduling and the variety of opportunities are key.
“When you are retired, you don’t want to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning,” she says. “It relates to time management, which believe it or not can be an issue even when you’re retired.”
“At RSVP, you’re able to choose different projects, whenever you want,” Beverly says. She said she appreciates the freedom of coming and going and doing the projects you want, “there’s no pressure to show up every day.”
Beverly says this flexibility allows her to live her life the way she wants.
Beverly also finds sharing her time and talents to help others to be very rewarding. She defines volunteerism as “helping people who need help.”
While volunteering for the Shepherd’s Center of McLean-Arlington-Falls Church, she drives clients back and forth to doctors’ appointments and to the grocery store, helping them to “age in place.”
A recent AARP study found that 90 percent of those 65 or better in the U.S. desire to “age in place” and want to live in the place of their choosing without experiencing a diminished quality of life.
Beverly says that volunteers who support local Shepherd’s Centers not only help neighbors meet basic needs, but they fill a social void.
“There are a lot of lonely seniors out there,” Beverly says. “I just enjoy talking to them, I just enjoy being with them and maybe making them smile when I pick them up or say something that makes them happy.”
Driving clients to the doctor typically involves a round trip, and when Beverly knows how long an appointment is, she tries to build in errands around the trip.
She also finds driving for the Shepherd’s Center is a good way to find your way around. Sometimes the people she is driving suggest different ways to get from point A to point B, that she may not have been aware of.
Beverly has taken part in several RSVP service projects over the last two years, ranging from helping prepare class packets at Junior Achievement Finance Park to assembling Valentine’s Day care packages for local seniors at RSVP’s February meet and greet in Falls Church, all providing opportunities to meet other volunteers.
“You have snacks and drink, sit there and chat and do what they need you to do,” says Beverly of the projects. She says she enjoys the social aspect of volunteering.
Why does Beverly think it’s important for seniors to volunteer?
“It’s something to look forward to,” she says. “It’s rewarding. The people being helped really appreciate your time.”
Beverly says there is always something different to do; no two volunteer days are the same.
“We (volunteers) don’t expect anything from it, we just love doing it,” she says.
To listen to a podcast of the complete interview with Beverly talking about volunteering with RSVP’s Rob Paine and Carly Hubicki, please visit https://soundcloud.com/rsvp_nova/rsvp-northern-virginia-volunteer-close-up-with-beverly-ritz-of-arlington
More about RSVP-Northern Virginia
RSVP Northern Virginia, a program of Volunteer Fairfax, Volunteer Arlington and Volunteer Alexandria, is the largest volunteer group for seniors and retirees in the region, offering more than 300 meaningful volunteer opportunities.
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 RSVP seminar on senior volunteering please 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 http://www.rsvpnova.org. RSVP Northern Virginia is program of Volunteer Fairfax, Volunteer Arlington and Volunteer Alexandria.