RSVP in Action
The Friendship Trio Created through Volunteering with AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP
An interview with AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP Volunteer, Lalita Subrahmanyan
Three independent tributaries of caring and service merged into a single stream of friendship when Mary Ann, Elaine and Jayne met through AmeriCorps Seniors RSVP in St. Cloud sometime in 2018.
All three women volunteered together at the Friends of the St. Cloud Library and separately at other various volunteer opportunities. Elaine and Jayne have driven golf carts at the local amphitheater, Jayne is involved in RSVP’s Readers Theater. Mary Ann now helps conduct tours at Whitney Senior Center. Most recently, all three have been baking cookies at the Quiet Oaks Hospice House. They all agree, they volunteer “Because it is fun. So much fun! We don’t need to be paid for this.”
Their volunteering at the library and mutual love of books were major factors in the blossoming of their friendship. But Covid acted as an unexpected catalyst for its cementing and maturing. “We couldn’t volunteer during Covid,” said Elaine. “But we decided we would meet outside, just the three of us. We all had been very cautious and careful, so meeting regularly outside worked.” Later, they began to meet at least once a month in one of their homes for a potluck during which time they played cards, solved puzzles, and ate together. “Without this it would have been very difficult,” said Mary Ann, shaking her head as she recalled the trying period. “We were out and about, and we were with friends. And that, I think, that was our savior,” followed Elaine gravely.
This flowering of their friendship was boosted by a most unexpected skill they developed: texting! “This woman,” said Mary Ann tapping Elaine on her shoulder, “She came up with emojis; they are so much fun!” “Texting between us would go on late at night!” they exclaimed. “You sound like teenagers,” I commented, once again setting off much giggling. I counted how many times they had interjected the word “fun” into this part of our conversation: at least ten just within two minutes.
When asked, “How would you describe your group, your friendship?” The question gave them pause. “We enjoy each other’s company for one thing,” said Elaine. “We’ve had vastly different life experiences,” remarked Jayne. For Mary Ann, the group was a source of solace and comfort at a time of loss. “It was comforting to have them around me, as a family,” she said contentedly. All of them agreed wholeheartedly that Covid and fascinatingly, the technology of texting brought them very close together although they had been friends and done things together earlier. They also wanted to express how grateful they were to RSVP, for giving them the opportunity to serve while making new friends and giving back to the community.