Central Misssouri Community Action now offers "RSVP" program for people 55 and over

Chris Bowie
Boonville Daily News
Fred Leuper, a retired banker who has lived in Glasgow and Boonville the last 10 years, recently signed up for the “RSVP” program through Central Missouri Community Action. The Retired Senior Volunteer Program is a program for people, age 55 and over, who want to generously donate their time to help their community with a wide variety of volunteer assignments at several local sites.

Central Missouri Community Action, located at 345 West Ashley Road in Boonville, has recently started a new program in Cooper County.

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program, or “RSVP”, is a program for people, age 55 and over, who want to generously donate their time to help their community with a wide variety of volunteer assignments at several local sites.

Bobbie Jo Carey, retired senior volunteer manager, said some opportunities may include: Assist CMCA with financial literacy classes, teach/mentor students working on their GED, Senior Center Assistant, repacking and distributing food at a pantry, shopping for homebound persons, meal delivery to homebound persons, and much more.

To be eligible to become a “RSVP”, the volunteer has to be 55 and over, have a willingness to be of service in the community without monetary compensation, and have a willingness to accept instruction and supervision as required.

Carey said currently the CMCA currently has one volunteer confirmed and several in the works.

“We are in Phase One as of now,” Carey said. “We have been establishing “Station Sites” that will facilitate our volunteers. We help non profit facilities and organizations fill the gaps for the needs in the community. Our focus is healthy futures and education right now. We have been visiting with all the local food pantries, and Senior Centers to help recognize the nutrition needs as well as getting specific volunteer duties for a wide array of opportunities the volunteers will be able to choose.”

Carey added that the CMCA also have strategically planning financial education information to reach their goal of mainstream financial literacy for many different aspects, including estate planning, mortgage planning, as well as educating for Senior Fraud, and end of life planning. She said CMCA is partnering with many local agencies to help offer trainings and education in these areas, as well as individual volunteers with this knowledge to lead with experience.

“We’re focusing on getting the word out for potential areas of need in the community and matching the volunteers with experience in these areas,” Carey said. “In this phase I have recognized personally the needs across our community. I have learned some of our small communities have been serving over half of their community population with food distribution and other services.

“It has opened my eyes to the very few volunteering now to fill those needs. I have heard from more than one organization, that it is always the same people that help, and a lot of those same people are beginning to no longer have the ability to do so due to health and age. I have also seen the incredible selflessness in these communities and the passion to help people and the connections they have made with others in doing so. My mission with the agency is to recognize where those gaps are present and come up with a solution that better serves the community.”

Lastly, Carey said the vast commonality is that the need is present, but the willing patrons are not. She said she hopes this program will open the eyes to our community of the unbalanced proportions and bring the community together to fill those gaps needed while building connections for a healthier, more balanced, and stronger community.

Fred Leuper, a retired banker who has lived in Glasgow and Boonville the last 10 years, said even though Tuesday was his first day with the “RSVP” program, he has been with foster grandparents through AmeriCorps Seniors for the past 6-7 years.

“I’ve always been around kids all my life, coached them in basketball and baseball, and when I was working in banking, I was kind of a mentor to kids,” Leuper said. “I’d hired them out of high school and get them going in their professional life. I've just always enjoyed helping out kids.”

Leuper said it all started when his grandson was in second grade. He said his grandson brought a note home saying if there were any parents or grandparents that were interested in reading, let the teacher know. He said the teacher just happened to be Melissa Baker.

“I called her to read to the class and we hit it off,” Leuper said. “I've been going there and working with kids ever since. As for the “RSVP”, the one thing that Bobby Jo Carey mentioned to me when we were talking is that since I worked in banking, maybe I could talk to the seniors about finances, setting up retirements and that type of thing. I just get enjoyment out of doing this, especially with kids. It’s very satisfying to see kids learn to be better readers or helping them with their math. It is enjoyable and rewarding to see that.”

While helping kids in both first and second grade at Hannah Cole Primary in Boonville, Leuper said he will be helping the older kids at David Barton this year.

“These last few years I have been working with first and second graders,” Leuper said. “When I was working, I helped the kids coming out of high school and I have worked with the older kids, but I enjoy working with the little guys.”

In a classroom all day long just like teachers, Leuper said he helps kids with reading, math and writing. At David Barton, Leuper will help the reading teachers with kids that are reading or doing math at below grade levels. “They're going to get some extra time with with us to see if we can help them improve a little bit,” Leuper said. “It’s all about the kids and helping them. That’s my fulfillment.”

If you are interested in volunteering, call the Central Missouri Community Action at 660-882-5601.