Volunteering brings rewards to area residents

Thursday, April 14, 2005

For Rosie Phegley of Cape Girardeau, volunteering at the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging isn't just answering phones. It's a way for her to meet community needs while helping people.

Phegley volunteers through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program, which has provided services to Cape Girardeau and Scott counties by volunteers 55 and older for 32 years.

"I like being around people, and someone's got to do it," she said.

April is National Volunteer Month, and area organizations such as RSVP provide plenty of opportunities to give back to the community for volunteers like Phegley. While Phegley doesn't volunteer regularly, if she is available, she does what she can. "So far, it hasn't been too hard," she said.

Family affair

Volunteering is a family affair for Brenda and Billy White of Cape Girardeau and their daughters, Erin and Alexis. They regularly volunteer through RSVP or the Volunteer Intergenerational Center in Cape Girardeau County, which recruits volunteers of all ages to help expand the services of not-for-profit agencies.

Erin, 16, and Alexis, 12, began volunteering last summer at the SEMO District Fair, manning the United Way of Southeast Missouri booth. Brenda White said she encouraged her daughters to volunteer because she wanted them to be able to "give back" to the community. "They are fortunate in so many ways," she said.

Brenda and Billy White also helped out at the fair. "I feel we set the example for our children," Brenda White said. "I even spoke at the volunteer recognition dinner. It was fun. I didn't realize so many people would be there."

The Volunteer Intergenerational Center began in Cape Girardeau County in July 2002. Combined, RSVP and VIC have 850 volunteers, serve 120 agencies and have generated close to 100,000 hours of volunteer service in 2004.

Volunteer meal delivery

Ken and Lorene Wood of Cape Girardeau, both volunteers who deliver hot meals for the Cape Girardeau Senior Center, find their work rewarding because they feel they help seniors maintain independence. With meals delivered to their homes, many seniors can continue to live at their residence while recuperating from illnesses, or can limit the shopping and preparation daily meals require. For some homebound seniors, this may also be the only contact they have on a daily basis with another person.

Ken Wood, 76, retired from full-time work in 1992, continued working part time until 1996 and then sought volunteer positions. He also volunteers at the Citizens Police Academy, helping the police department cut down on paperwork by transferring files to microfilm.

'A lot of interesting people'

Wood's favorite position, however, is delivering meals. "Seeing seniors express their gratitude for the meals they get is why I do it," Ken Wood said. "We meet a lot of interesting people."

Lorene Wood said their regular delivery route serves approximately 26 seniors. They make deliveries weekly, but also fill in when others can't do their route. "We're both retired and didn't want to look at each other and sleep all day," Lorene Wood said. "Sometimes we pick up a paper or a person's mail or put a letter in the box for them."

Ken Wood added, "One day, we might need help as well."

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program and the Volunteer Intergenerational Center are sponsored by the Southeast Missouri Area Agency on Aging. Anyone interested in volunteering can contact RSVP/VIC at 335-7555, (573) 887-3664 or (573) 471-8584.

cpagano@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 133

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