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RSVP News & Opportunities

- April and May 2024 -

Bites & Bubbly 

Our second annual Bites and Bubbly went off without a hitch!

On Friday, March 29, over 75 volunteers and volunteer station partners gathered with RSVP and Volunteer Fairfax staff to celebrate the closing of our 2021-2024 grant cycle. We “rumbled in the jungle” while enjoying good food, good fellowship, and gifts for all! RSVP staff was blown away by the participation and the representation of our RSVP group. It was inspiring and encouraging to see so many of our volunteers show up.


You all are the reason this program is successful. Your time, dedication, and willingness to share your skills make a difference in our communities every day. Whether you were able to attend the party or not, we are THANKFUL for this amazing group of volunteers we get to work with every day. In fact, ... we’re WILD about you!

RSVP Honors Robbie Mosley

One of Volunteer Fairfax’s signature events, which has been held annually since 1992, is the Volunteer Service Awards. Individual and group volunteers from across the County are recognized for their dedication by the nonprofit community. All 10 Fairfax County Supervisors’ offices are involved, each one selecting and personally honoring a “Community Champion” from their district at an event attended by volunteers, families, nonprofits, and dignitaries.

 

We couldn’t be happier for Supervisor Jeff McKay’s choice as 2024 Community Champion for Fairfax County at Large – our own Robbie Mosley, who has given nearly 1500 hours of service to local nonprofits as an RSVP volunteer over the past four years. Congratulations, Robbie!

 

Robbie performs two types of volunteer work – the physical, as a truck driver and loader/unloader/organizer for United Communities’ food pantry, and the intellectual, as a financial educator for eighth graders at Junior Achievement and financial coach for clients of Britepaths’ Financial Empowerment Center.

 

To make Robbie blush, Martha Borowski at Britepaths calls him “invaluable,” Brenda Renninger at United Communities says he’s “a huge blessing,” and overall, it’s agreed that he is “just a great guy.” Congratulations again, Robbie – we are delighted about this accolade!

Rolling Out New Grant Cycle

Well, we’re almost there as we write this – and as you read it, WE DID IT! WE DID IT! We are at the end of our fourth AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP grant cycle, and without even catching our breath, we’re on to number five, year one. We are glad that AmeriCorps sees the value in our programs and has agreed to sustain RSVP-Northern Virginia for another three-year cycle.

 

For you as a volunteer, there should feel like no difference between March 31 and April 1. Behind the scenes, a couple of new accounting codes are implemented, and an invigorated and optimistic RSVP team is at your service. The differences are mostly in the background. A few are listed here:


      A new volunteer handbook! [Find here] Oh, and it’s beautiful! The team worked hard on updating content and style to make information easier to find and understand. Particular kudos to team member Patricia, whose keen eye and artistic sense are a joy to work with. There are some changes from previous handbooks, so be sure to download this one and peruse it at your leisure.


      A new timesheet! [Find here] Please use this one, as it has been modified from last year.


      Revised focus areas. These will not affect your current volunteer placement, but hopefully will expand your opportunities going forward. Areas such as the critically important Aging in Place (including transportation and companionship), Nutrition/Food Support, Economic Opportunity, and Education are familiar to you all and remain important ways RSVP serves the community. However, we are expanding the roles our volunteers can play in two other areas:

  • Capacity Building – With increased need but often reduced funding, nonprofits and agencies would struggle to provide the services their clients desperately need without volunteer assistance. According to our partner Food for Others, in 2022 volunteers performed the work of 16 full-time staff members, allowing them to distribute 3.5 million pounds of food to Northern Virginia families. RSVP volunteers will build nonprofit capacity by staffing offices and events, managing donations, and overseeing other volunteers.
  • Disaster Services – RSVP volunteers will have more opportunities to support the Fairfax County Department of Emergency Management and Security, as well as local Red Cross initiatives and projects.


If you have any questions about the new grant cycle, Karen (kcoon@volunteerfairfax.org) or Stacey (siden@volunteerfairfax.org) will be more than happy to answer them.

Group Service Project

Our first group service project of the new grant cycle is coming up! We will be assisting our friends from the Fairfax County Park Authority at their Earth Day event at Sully Historic Site from 3-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 20. Our volunteers will be there to close out the event, helping event staff and vendors pack their equipment, clean up supplies, and load their cars. There are ways to assist without having to lift and carry items, so don’t let that stop you from joining us! You are also welcome to attend the event prior to the volunteer shift so you can enjoy the festivities.


Please reach out to Karen Coon at kcoon@volunteerfairfax.org if you are able to help.

Bee Better Series

If you were able

to catch a presentation on

the new grant information, either virtually, in-person, or via the recording, you may recall hearing about the Bee Better series that we offer a couple times yearly. The Bee Better series focuses on different topics that may be of interest to our volunteers and allows us all to engage in some wholistic learning.


We have invited Dr. Ellen Clarke, founder of Brain Evolved which helps older adults maintain their cognitive abilities, to speak at our first Bee Better presentation of 2024 via Zoom, on Monday, April 22 at 2 p.m. Her talk is titled, Brain Fitness: Keys to Prolonging Independence.


Keep an eye on the Monday Memos for more information about Dr. Clarke and a description of her talk and let Karen know if you would like a Zoom link.

AmeriCorps Seniors Satellite Media Tour

Our own RSVP volunteer, Shelley Brosnan, will participate in the AmeriCorps Seniors Satellite Media Tour on Monday, April 29. What is a Satellite Media Tour? It’s a series of TV/radio interviews conducted on a single day from a single location. It allows spokespeople to connect with multiple local audiences and tell a story.


During this media tour, Shelley will join Atalaya Sergi, AmeriCorps Seniors National Director, as together they recognize the impact of relationships and social connections on health and well-being. Currently, with the increasing population of older adults, loneliness (especially in people 50+) is trending upward. Ms. Sergi, as the interview subject matter expert, and Shelley as support and an example of volunteerism in action, will offer AmeriCorps Seniors programs as both a resource and solution to this loneliness epidemic.


Thank you, Shelley, for your willingness to represent our program and share

the positive benefits of senior volunteering and how lives are improved and impacted specifically through volunteer service with AmeriCorps! Be sure to watch for detailed information with the interview broadcast schedule in upcoming Monday Memos from Karen so that we can all support Shelley and AmeriCorps Seniors. 



Vienna Wellness Fair 

RSVP will participate in the Vienna Parks and Recreation Wellness and Safety Expo on Friday, May 10, 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. at the Vienna Community Center. At the event, older adults can undergo medical screenings and partake in educational opportunities from local vendors providing a wide range of resources to enhance physical and mental wellbeing. This event provides a wonderful environment for older adults to nurture personal interests, learn something new, foster friendships, and gather vital information. If you’re in the area, stop by the event, and be sure to visit with the RSVP team!  


Prohibited

Activities Explained

We cannot recall any instance of an RSVP volunteer having to be dismissed from the program. Our volunteers are reliable, responsible, and recognized throughout the nonprofit community as outstanding in their service.


However, that said, at the start of our new grant cycle it’s not a bad idea to remind you of things you cannot do under the AmeriCorps umbrella.

  • Engage in political activity while volunteering with RSVP. 
  • Participate in any religious or sectarian activity while volunteering, such as proselytizing at volunteer stations.
  • Get paid for your services by clients, their legal guardians, family members, or friends.
  • Displace employees. While we recognize that RSVP volunteers must not do work which would displace employed staff, we also recognize that your time and effort increase the capacity of our workstation partners to serve more people and make more effective use of the professional skills of their staff, and we are grateful for your service!


Other actions to avoid are common sense and we cannot imagine our volunteers engaging in them, but here you go:

  • Misconduct or inappropriate behavior;
  • Unsatisfactory performance;
  • Breach of confidentiality;
  • Willful violation of security or safety rules, failure to observe safety rules, or failure to wear required safety equipment;
  • Being intoxicated or under the influence of controlled substances while volunteering;
  • Unauthorized possession of dangerous or illegal firearms;
  • Theft of property;
  • Threatening, intimidating, or coercing fellow volunteers, the public, RSVP staff, or volunteer station staff; and/or,
  • Dishonesty, willful falsification, or misrepresentation on your volunteer enrollment form or other volunteer records.


Duty done, prohibited activities explained, and now everyone can get back to their critical and rewarding work. 😊

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RSVP-Northern Virginia is sponsored by Volunteer Fairfax

and is a program of AmeriCorps Seniors.