Volunteering A Heartwarming Experience

SENIOR REVIEW

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The Rim Country abounds with service organizations. They run by the effort of volunteers, many of them senior citizens.

They work at local thrift stores that support domestic violence victims, help with the Meals on Wheels program and elder health; they go into school classrooms and show children how to draw penguins and teach them about the rocks and minerals of the Rim Country; they raise money so local teens can go to college and all school children can have art supplies; they pick up trash that someone else dropped along our scenic Beeline Highway.

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The older residents of the Rim Country are largely responsible for many of the quality of life improvements in the community, such as the off-leash dog park at Rumsey Park in Payson, which was created by the group PAWS in the Park.

They make an enormous difference in the lives of people they touch on a daily basis.

"It's just giving back time," said Nancy Clarkson, who volunteers at Time Out Domestic Violence Shelter's Thrift Store.

Clarkson said she is glad to sort donations and get clothes ready to be sold because domestic violence shelters were not around when she could have used their help in the 1960s.

"Years ago, my friend Jean volunteered, and she got me interested in joining her," Barbara Sampson said.

She works a couple mornings a week at Time Out because she enjoys the people and gets a kick out of sorting through the donations.

"We've had everything donated, including the kitchen sink," she said.

Senior volunteers make a difference at Payson Community Kids by helping to keep them safe and being an example to children of trustworthiness.

"Ella Hatfield is the kind of person we want to be when we grow up," said PCK director Marcy Rogers and Time Out education coordinator Jean Oliver. "She is such a joy."

Hatfield donates her time at PCK, Time Out and her church.

The 600 seniors registered with the Pinal-Gila Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) donated more than 100,000 hours last year.

The bulk of Time Out volunteers are over 55, some are in the RSVP program, and many are not. Oliver said the 60 seniors on the volunteer roster donate an average of 1,300 hours per month.

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Scott Frederick, a cook at the Pine Senior Citizens Center, is one of the many seniors of the Rim Country who contribute their time and talents to helping fellow senior citizens.

Senior volunteers at PCK logged over 240 hours in April.

Lions and Lionesses collect eyeglasses for the less fortunate, and raise funds for hospice and Habitat for Humanity.

Children learn to love books, and adults learn how to pass their GEDs so they can achieve a better lifestyle through the kindness of volunteers at Rim Country Literacy Program.

Police Volunteers In Action contact homebound citizens with a friendly call each morning to ask, "How are you doing?"

Care center volunteers assist patients with meals and games.

In the Rim Country, volunteers preserve the past for future generations at the Rim Country Museum, the Museum of Rim Country Archaeology, the Strawberry Schoolhouse and the Zane Grey Cabin.

Seniors who choose to register with RSVP are eligible for workshops, training and service awards. RSVP volunteers also receive secondary insurance and an optional travel reimbursement of 10 cents per mile from sponsoring agency, the Central Arizona Association of Governments.

"It's just a little incentive," said Roy Chavez, local RSVP program director. "At the Pine library, volunteers report their mileage hours. When they get the check, they donate it back to the library."

Online visit inpayson.com for a long list of organizations that could use a volunteer or five.

RSVP director Joan Cooper Phillips can answer program questions at (800) 782-1445, Ext. 27.

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