Retired and Senior Volunteer Program
The Greater St Cloud RSVP is a proud grantee of AmeriCorps Seniors.
Our mission is to engage men and women age 55 + in meaningful volunteer service that strengthens the well-being of both self and community.
AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP is one of the largest volunteer networks in our nation for adults age 55+ serving locally in the Greater St Cloud Area and sponsored by the City of St Cloud. RSVP staff provide orientation and support to ensure quality service experiences. AmeriCorps Seniors are covered by supplemental insurance and may utilize optional mileage reimbursement while serving through RSVP.
What sets RSVP apart from other programs:
RSVP offers a variety of service opportunities within 176 local organization and volunteers create their own flexible schedule and level of commitment. Individuals can pick and choose how they wish to serve by volunteering in an on-going position or assisting at one-time community engagement events.
For volunteer opportunities contact:
Volunteering and Gaining Friendship: Fran Hill-Rowen, AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Volunteer
By RSVP Volunteer Lalita Subrahmanyan
In an informal free-flowing interview, Fran Hill- Rowen, volunteer transporter with Faith in Action, reminisced about how her personal connection to a staff member at RSVP has enhanced and supported her post-retirement volunteer journey. “RSVP’s programs play a vital role [in the greater St. Cloud area].,” she asserts.
RSVP connected Fran to Faith in Action, a statewide organization, where she regularly drives seniors from assisted-living and other facilities to the doctor’s and other essential appointments. Fran loves her job. It is flexible, she says, and each week is different. Over the years she has driven an average of 1200 miles per year, sometimes up to 3000 miles, and is willing to do some more should the need arise. She averages about three rides a week and has a regular group of 12 to 15 people, a few of whom she accompanies three or fewer times a year and others who are driven on a weekly schedule.
Fran believes that the best part of her experience is the ride itself. It gives her a chance to get to know her riders and develop a connection. Fran prefers to use the word friendship in describing her relationship with her passengers. I got the impression from Fran that the two of them – the passenger and chauffer – had a very good time together! “I ask them questions,” she explained, “And they tell me their stories. They talk about their lives, and I just listen.” The stories are very interesting, funny, nostalgic and poignant. And, sometimes, private. But, as she expressed it, “They don’t know the people I know, and I don’t know the people they talk about. It’s just sharing, very simple.”
When asked to describe one of her most memorable experiences, Fran recollected a time when she taken a woman her age regularly for groceries. She narrated how they had got along so well that they struck up a friendship that has “lasted until today.” They continued to meet even when the woman’s circumstances changed, and Fran no longer needed to give her a ride. A few years ago, Fran’s friend moved out of Minnesota, an event that turned out to be very hard on both. But they have continued to remain friends. They exchange birthday and Christmas cards, send each other messages on Facebook, and Fran visits her friend when she comes to Minneapolis to see her grandchildren.
Fran’s remark that she builds a relationship with her passengers by joking around with them came as no surprise to me. It was evident at our Zoom interview that she likes to smile and laugh and has a terrific sense of humor. “I’m your date today!” she says cheerily sending her passengers into peals of laughter. She shared that she often compliments them on their clothes and their appearance. “They don’t have many opportunities to converse with a lot of other people. I want to make sure that they know I’m seeing a person. They are not just somebody I take in my car.” In her words, they are her friends. They are like her older sister. And, of course, therefore, she’s very scrupulous about confidentiality. “What’s said in the Prius (Fran’s car) stays in the Prius,” she tells them.
Surprisingly, even at this time during Minnesota’s Covid-19 Shelter-in-Place order, Fran has continued to keep in touch with her passengers. She has been calling them on a regular basis to check in and find out how they are managing. She has sent them cards and notes. A mark of a true friend.