RSVP facing budget cuts

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The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program is one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people 55 and over. The Mesa County branch of RSVP was started in 1973 and currently works with more than 450 volunteers.

In addition to coordinating with over 80 existing organizations including rec centers, hospitals, and nursing homes, the non-profit also hosts their own programs.

"It's a great place to volunteer. It's one-stop shopping. We can help people get involved any place they're interested in the community," said Jean Brewer, Executive Director of Mesa County RSVP.

RSVP organizes neighborhood watch programs, tutors disadvantaged youth, and renovates homes through Handyman Project. The organization also recognizes that Medicare can be confusing. The Senior Health Insurance Assistance Program, or SHIP, is available to make sure seniors understand health care coverage.

"We're the warm body, the face that people come and see when they have questions about Medicare. They're confused, and we help them," said Ruth McCrea, SHIP and Handyman Project Manager.

According to the National Council on Aging, overall funding for Senior Corps programs may be cut by at least $56 million with President Obama's new budget. These changes will cause RSVP to lose almost 70% of its funding. Future grants would be made under the Volunteer Generation Fund.

RSVP volunteers continue to support the program they know and love.

"A lot of your satisfaction in community service depends on the organization that you're with," said Bill Stevens, a Handyman Project Volunteer.

The National Association of RSVP Directors and Green Piranhas, Inc. have launched a website to educate the public on the effects the proposed federal budget cuts will have on local community volunteer services.

To get involved with the efforts, visit

Anyone interested in donating or volunteering with RSVP can visit their website at or call (970) 243-9839.