County seeks federal grant to expand RSVP

Anoka County wants to expand the volunteer opportunities it offers county residents age 55 and older.

The Anoka County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has been given approval by the Anoka County Board to submit a competitive grant application to the Corporation for National and Community Service (NOFO) to create a new volunteer program to serve local veterans.

The grant request is for $7,000 and, if approved, would be for the period Sept. 1, 2012 through March 31, 2013.

According to Gayle Alexander, county community resources and volunteer supervisor, there are currently more than 400 volunteers working in the RSVP program.

Through RSVP, seniors and retired people are connected with nonprofit and social service programs in the county who need volunteers.

To be part of RSVP, volunteers complete a skills and interests checklist and these are matched to needs in the community.

The volunteer picks the area in which they wish to work.

The RSVP program is eligible to apply for these CNCS federal dollars because it is a current recipient of an annual CNCS grant, with the balance of its funding coming from state and county sources, according to Alexander.

“If received, the additional funding would enable RSVP to develop volunteer opportunities that would serve veterans living in Anoka County,” Alexander wrote in a report to the Anoka County Board’s Human Services Committee, which recommended the grant application to the county board.

Quite how the project would function if the federal dollars are received has not yet been worked out, she said.

“But we would develop and promote new volunteer opportunities specifically targeted at serving local veterans and their families,” Alexander said.

The project would be designed to serve veterans of any age, she said.

According to Alexander, in developing the project, RSVP, which is run by Kristin Tossey, will be in contact with a number of resources, for example the new Veterans Administration outpatient clinic in Ramsey and the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon campaign, which provides community support to military personnel and their families.

“And we would hope that some veterans sign up to be volunteers,” Alexander said.

Peter Bodley is at [email protected]