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Put your time, experience and passion to good use
Debbie Moloney volunteers at Escorted Transporation Service Northwest, a program that gives seniors rides.
Tirado says her volunteer hours and schedule are flexible. She also enjoys the refreshing change from the high energy environment she taught in at a junior high.
"The variety of activities available at the SuperSibs! office provides a challenge and a change from what I had done for years," she says.
If you're thinking about volunteering, Tirado says RSVP might be a good fit whether for you personally, or with a group of friends.
"If a person has the time and interest, there's no reason why they can't find an engaging, worthwhile volunteer activity by going to the RSVP website," she says.
For seasoned citizens
Escorted Transportation Service Northwest based in Arlington Heights serves an entirely different population seniors. ETSNW is a volunteer driven program providing rides for seniors to medical and dental appointments, by screened, trained and licensed volunteer drivers, relates Kathy Kasprowicz, executive director of the organization.
"Many frail elderly are no longer able to drive and need escorts to accompany them especially when family lives far away or cannot take time away from their job to drive," says Kasprowicz.
ETSNW was founded in 2006 and, currently, close to 75 volunteer drivers serve more than 600 passengers.
"As of April 2011 over 10,000 round trip rides have been given," says Kasprowicz.
"We now have 16 volunteer support staff members helping out in varying degrees as their time and talent permit."
Volunteers tell Kasprowicz they get so much more than they give. "They get the satisfaction of knowing they make a difference in the life of another person. They feel appreciated and admired for the service they provide. They get the sense of well being one achieves for a job well done. They meet interesting people and have an opportunity to make new friends. Most importantly, they fulfill our purpose to serve one another and especially those less fortunate."
Kasprowicz is emphatic when she says, "we could not exist without volunteers. We are a very small grass roots group with a tiny budget. We want to keep our services affordable for seniors on a fixed income. We ask for a $12 donation for each round trip. The actual cost of a trip is $22.55. So, we write grants, hold fundraisers, an annual appeal, and other events to keep us in the black and on the road."
For more information on ETSNW, visit www.etsnw.org.
Debbie Moloney, 63, suggests looking at volunteering with fresh eyes and a larger perspective.
"Volunteering is not necessarily doing more of what you have done all your life," she says. "It can be about doing some of your secret dreams and aspirations. Volunteering is about increasing the volume of joy in this world. Volunteers make a significant difference in balancing the economy and boosting the morale in others."
The recent retiree decided now was the time to do something fun and supportive.
After some exploring the Elk Grove resident came across RSVP's website.
"I simply entered my choices online and within a day I was contacted by the volunteer service directors," says Moloney. "They were as excited to hear from me as I was from them."
Moloney has been volunteering seven months with ETSNW. "On Thursdays I make phone calls to all the registered clients who have requested a volunteer driver to take them to their medical appointment," she says. "These contacts involve anywhere between 30 to 50 clients per week and a few are weekly requests for dialysis. This is an amazing support to our senior friends and the medical practitioners. Each phone call involves a short friendly chat and a reassuring notice, to the client, of their driver."
Kasprowicz appreciates the work Moloney does with ETSNW and echoes her sentiment regarding volunteerism, adding: "Do it! Give it a try. Keep trying until you find your niche with an organization you like. If you like it, you will recruit your friends. That is what Debbie has done. She is a double blessing."