RSVP in Action

Volunteers: Instilling Positive Attitudes in Local Schools

In a report published by the School Mental Health Project at UCLA evidence is testified proving volunteers can “be significant resources in helping create a supportive and welcoming environment at schools and facilitating students’ behavior and performance. As positive role models and student motivators, volunteers are viewing as contributing to better school attendance, improved grades and test scores, matriculation, less misbehavior, better social skills, staying in school, graduating and going on to college.” In this same report, evidence is noted that when adult volunteers are present in the schools, students see adults taking school and education seriously resulting in students obtaining a positive attitudes towards school.

​Many volunteers through the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) serve in a variety of capacities throughout local school districts.

RSVP Volunteer, Tim Radunz

One of these volunteers is Tim Radunz who definitely promotes a positive attitude in the school. Whether Tim is tutoring in the classroom, sending kids home on a positive note via bus duty or simply correcting student’s papers he instills a positive learning experience for all students. This fall will mark the start of Tim’s fourth year as a volunteer at Kennedy Elementary School in St. Joseph where he has served over 3,100 hours in multiple fourth grade classrooms. During the school year, Tim spends all day, every day offering a helping hand to students. Tim said he enjoys working with the kids individually and as a group and he says “I love the satisfaction of seeing the kids when the lights go on in their eyes and they just get the idea.” When asking Tim his favorite part about volunteering he said he enjoys joking with the students as much as he enjoys working with them on scholarly topics. Tim stated he continues to volunteer because he enjoys creating the connections with the students. “I have made many bonds with children in the classroom that I will never, ever forget” Tim said.

​St. Cloud Area School District 742 loves having Tim in the classroom as much as he loves being there. The principal at Kennedy Elementary in St. Joseph, Laurie Putnam, says “"Tim serves full time in a fourth grade classroom. He is integral to supporting the achievement of students in not only that room but of all fourth grade students. He supports math and literacy skill development by doing pull-out small groups during station time and by providing one-to-one support in the classroom. He also mentors students by providing a kind smile and a listening ear. Tim will join students for lunches and recess and supports supervision efforts at the bus chute.”

​ Last school year the district recognized Tim as an outstanding volunteer through their “Partners in Education” award ceremony held at Tech High School in April 2016. The district says “this event recognizes individuals and organizations that illuminate the mission of District 742 and support schools and students.” Tim was honored to be nominated and receive the award and says “I don’t volunteer for the accolades, I do it because I like it. However, it does feel good to be appreciated.”

​ There are many RSVP volunteers who join Tim in serving in local schools. During the 2015-2016 school year there were 173 RSVP volunteers who served 6,476 in our area schools! The Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program would like to thank these volunteers for their passion and dedication to playing a large role in shaping both the future of children in the area as well as the future of our community.

​ The St. Cloud Area School District #742 truly values the relationship which continues to grow with RSVP. RSVP volunteers assist with a variety of tasks throughout the St. Cloud Area Schools ranging from mentoring students in the classroom to helping with one-time community events hosted by the school district.

​ The Volunteer Specialist for St. Cloud Area Schools, Sonia Dickrell, stated “RSVP has been an outstanding community partner of St. Cloud Area School District for years. As an organization they support our efforts to meet our mission by providing recruitment and placement of one time and ongoing volunteers in our schools and programs.” Sonia also raved about RSVP volunteers and their skills saying “RSVP volunteers are known to be qualified, passionate and reliable to our staff. The positive energy and enthusiasm they [RSVP volunteers] bring every day is a joy for teachers, staff and students. RSVP volunteers who serve in the classrooms to support academics quickly become “Grandparents” of the room. The positive adult presence is valuable for creating community and supporting student growth and achievement.”

​RSVP is currently recruiting volunteers to lend a hand in many local classrooms for the 2016-2017 school year. If you are ages 55 or better and you are interested in making a difference in your community schools please call the RSVP office at (320)255-7295 to learn more.

RSVP Volunteers Aide the American Red Cross with Saving Lives through Blood Drives

RSVP Volunteers

Every two seconds, someone in the United States is in need of blood with nearly 21 million blood products being transfused to patients each year. The American Red Cross began collecting blood for patients in 1940, under the leadership of Dr. Charles Drew, after seeing the widespread need for blood donations.

The American Red Cross is a large distributer of our nation’s blood providing blood for patients in approximately 2,600 hospitals across the US. In total, the American Red Cross supplies approximately 40% of our nation’s blood supply! The American Red Cross accomplishes this great feat by working with more than 58,000 blood drive sponsors each year to hold more than 145,000 blood drives, providing convenient locations for people to give blood. Eighty percent of the blood donations given to the Red Cross are collected at mobile blood drives set up at community organizations, companies, high schools, colleges, places of worship or military installations. The remaining 20% of donations are collected at Red Cross donation centers.

Each year, approximately 6.8 million people in the United States donate blood. Less than 38% of the population is eligible to give blood or platelets and, of the eligible population, sadly less than 10% actually donate their blood each year.

All blood collected for transfusion in the US must be from volunteers and the American Red Cross is not able to pay donors for their blood. The process of donating blood is simple, safe and sterile. The American Red Cross boasts their process to donate blood consists of four simple steps: registration, medical history and mini-physical, donation and refreshments. It is a quick process, with the entire process only taking about an hour and fifteen minutes from start to finish. When donating blood, roughly one pint of blood is taken from each donor. The average adult has about 10 pints of blood in their body.

​ You don’t need to have a specific or special reason to donate blood. Most commonly, donors through the American Red Cross say they donate because they were asked to by a friend, they have family members or friends who may need blood someday and many donors simply believe it is the right thing to do. According to the American Red Cross, the number one reason donors say they give blood is because they “want to help others”.

​ Local chapters of the American Red Cross in St. Paul and St. Cloud both utilize volunteers from the Greater St. Cloud Area Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) to host and carryout successful blood drives throughout Benton, Sherburne and Stearns counties. RSVP is a national volunteer program engaging men and women (age 55 or better) in meaningful volunteer service strengthening the well-being of both self and community.

​ RSVP volunteers assist at blood drives by welcoming, registering and checking in donors as well as offering canteen services to donors upon completion of their blood donation. Twenty five RSVP volunteers have generously served 322 hours over the past year to the American Red Cross blood drives. As a result of these volunteer hours, 841,744 units of blood were collected by the American Red Cross at blood drives where RSVP volunteers served.

​ Diane began volunteering with RSVP in 2012 when she was referred to the volunteer program by the American Red Cross. Diane began volunteering with a specific interest in helping with blood drives saying “I really wanted to help in some area but I just couldn’t find the right fit until I found the American Red Cross.” Since joining RSVP Diane has served 70 hours to blood drives throughout in the Sherburne County area.

​ Diane has volunteered for blood drives at churches, banks, county court houses and other locations and says all of the locations she has served at have been great and very enjoyable. Diane said her motivation to volunteer for the American Red Cross stemmed from an experience she had in the 1970s when her husband was very ill and needed blood for surgeries. Diane said she would have liked to give blood for her husband but she was unable to as she had a fear of needles. The guilt of this harbored with her for a long time until she finally mustered up the courage to donate blood with the American Red Cross and found the donation process was “no big deal” and she “thought it was going to be worse than it is”. Diane now regularly donates blood but also felt drawn to serve in other capacities with the American Red Cross. This led Diane to start volunteering at blood drives and she states “I enjoy watching people who also donate their time and people who volunteer. They just seem uplifted and they’re happy in general.” Diane states volunteering is a way for her to get out in the community and help others and says she would recommend volunteering with the American Red Cross to anyone interested in getting involved.

​ Whether one is donating blood or assisting with a blood drive, the American Red Cross truly appreciates volunteers’ contributions. The American Red Cross says one blood donation can save up to three lives so they greatly value each blood donation which is received. To learn more about donating blood please visit the American Red Cross website.

​ RSVP is recruiting more volunteers to serve at the American Red Cross blood drives or other volunteer locations. If you are ages 55 or better and you are interested in making a difference in your community please call the RSVP office at (320)255-7295 to explore the many volunteer opportunities which await you!

​ **Facts and statistics in this article are taken from the American Red Cross Website.

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