Janesville48.8°

Rock, Walworth County volunteer programs partnered

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Kayla Bunge
October 31, 2008

Since June, Patti O’Brien’s home in Waterford has been the headquarters for the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Walworth County.


The program used to share an office with the Red Cross in Whitewater. But when the Red Cross chapter folded, it left RSVP without a home and without a sponsor.


The program was in danger of evaporating.


Not anymore.


The Walworth County RSVP is getting help from its sister program in Rock County.


“If Rock County wouldn’t have picked it up, we might not be here,” O’Brien said.


Robert Harlow, executive director of RSVP of Rock County, said his program was in a “healthy position” to sponsor its sister program.


“We submitted a proposal for sponsorship, and really there weren’t any other entities that had put the proposal in,” he said. “We wanted to make sure that that program continued to operate and because of the closeness (of the two counties), we thought we’d be able to make it work.”


Walworth County initially sponsored the RSVP program when it was established 35 years ago. Then in 2000, the chapter of the American Red Cross serving Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties took over sponsorship of the program.


But the Red Cross chapter folded in June.


RSVP must be sponsored by a nonprofit organization to qualify for a federal grant, which provides about 90 percent of the program’s funding, O’Brien said.


Harlow said the partnership between the Rock and Walworth county programs has the potential to make both stronger.


“No Rock County money is going to services in Walworth (County) and vice versa,” he said.


Harlow said RSVP of Rock County, which receives funding from local organizations such as the United Way, can help RSVP of Walworth County find local funding.


He said the program has submitted a request to a Walworth County chapter of the United Way and is working with the county to either contract with the program for services or provide the program with in-kind office space.


In the meantime, O’Brien said, RSVP of Walworth County will share an office with Delavan-Darien Telecare, a program of the United Way that provides senior citizens with a free, daily telephone call. The office is in the basement of the Delavan Police Department, 123 S. Second St.


“They (Telecare) only use the office for an hour each morning, so we’re going to share that for nine months until the county gets its act together,” O’Brien said.


RSVP of Walworth County has a roster of about 400 volunteers, age 55 and older. They give more than 40,000 hours a year in services—from delivering Meals on Wheels to stocking shelves at food pantries to clerical work at libraries and schools.


“It’s just a really, really wonderful program,” O’Brien said.


HOW TO HELP
To volunteer or to learn more about the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Walworth County, call (262) 472-9632 or e-mail rsvp@tds.net.

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