R.S.V.P. Fights for Funding

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A well known local agency in Meridian could be shutting its doors soon. Retired Senior Volunteer Program will soon be taking a major funding cut. The cut comes after President Obama unveiled his nearly four trillion dollar budget for next year, that will affect RSVP programs nationwide. United Way brought the program to Meridian through its sponsorship. The Executive Director of United Way says this program is one that remains close to their organization.

The Executive Director of The United Way Thad Quarles said, "We sponsor a lot of community impact programs, but this is one that is very special to us because the impact it has locally with the seniors being able to get out in the community and actually self actualize themselves to be able to get out and be able to interact with the community. Sometimes it even leads to permanent positions with non-profit."

There are currently 687 RSVP Organizations in the nation, but under the new national budget that was submitted, only one third of the RSVP's in the nation will survive and be absorbed into the Volunteer General Fund. With Meridian, not being as big of a city as others nationwide, the local RSVP might not make the cut even though they go above and beyond what is required of them.

"Last year, hoping to make an impression, we stepped up and did more last year," director Diana Glover says. "We had 36,748 hours of volunteer service in this community. And when you put that at a dollar value, it's over half a million dollars. "

Nationwide RSVP Volunteers donated 62 million hours back to the community. It's one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation. Not only does the program allow senior citizens to give back to the community, but it allows them to live a healthier life by becoming more active and being happier according to the RSVP Executive Director.

"There's even official documents that say people who volunteer and do it for the right reason live an average 7 years longer than someone who doesn't," said Glover. "So we just try to give everybody the opportunity to live longer."

Plans are already underway to begin looking for alternative funding to continue operating RSVP in Meridian.