History of RSVP of Spokane County
Spokane's Riverfront Park
RSVP is an outgrowth of efforts by private groups, gerontologists, and government agencies over the past five decades to address the needs of retired persons in America. The White House Conference on Aging in 1961 called attention to the continuing need of older individuals for useful activity. One of the outcomes of the Conference was the passage of the Older Americans Act of 1965.
In the same year, the Community Service Society of New York launched a pilot project on Staten Island which involved a small group of older adults in volunteer service to their communities. It was named SERVE (Serve and Enrich Retirement by Volunteer Experience). The success of this program, which demonstrated beyond a doubt the value of the services of older volunteers, led to an amendment to the Older Americans Act, creating the Retired Senior Volunteer Program in 1971.
Spokane County resident, Ray Tansey, then the Director of Voluntary Action Center for United Way of Spokane County, wrote the first grant for the Spokane County Retired Senior Volunteer Program in 1972.
In December of the same year, the United Way was awarded a grant from ACTION to begin the RSVP program which was to be located at 211 W. Sprague. After a brief period of administrative preparation, the program opened in March 1973. In that year, United Way and the RSVP program moved to the Corbin House, now a historical landmark.
In 1974, RSVP became a part of the Parks and Recreation Senior Program working in association with United Way. After a brief interval, the joint program ended in December 1974. In January 1975, after the Expo '74 offices were closed, the YMCA of the Inland Northwest became the sponsoring agency for RSVP and remains so to this day.
Changes to RSVP include the passage of the National and Community Trust Act of 1993, which formed the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS), taking the place of ACTION on April 4, 1994.
The Historic Daniel and Anna Corbin House
The Act placed RSVP under the National Senior Service Corps (NSSC), which took the place of the Older American Volunteer Programs (OAVP); changed RSVP's name to the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program; lowered the age limit to 55, giving preference to the 60 and over population; and formed the State Commissions on volunteerism.
In September 2020, CNCS as an entire agency rebranded to operate as AmeriCorps. Senior Corps became AmeriCorps Seniors. With this rebranding come new logos and a new visual identity, but the individual program names and missions remain unchanged.
Today, AmeriCorps Seniors connects roughly 220,000 Americans to service opportunities in their communities. Senior Corps volunteers use their acquired skills, knowledge, and experience to make a difference to individuals, non-profits, and faith-based and other community organizations throughout the United States.
Here in Spokane County, since RSVP's inception, over 4,300 volunteers have generated nearly
3.3 million hours of service to the community. Typical service activities for RSVP volunteers include tutoring children, renovating homes, teaching English to immigrants, assisting victims of natural disasters, providing independent living services, and recruiting and managing other volunteers.
Currently, RSVP of Spokane County is focused on the need areas of aging in place, education, food security, and nonprofit capacity building, in addition to our Project Warm-Up initiative.
RSVP of Spokane County promotes senior volunteer opportunities to build a stronger community through partnerships that impact community needs.
About AmeriCorps Seniors
AmeriCorps Seniors helps meet the needs and challenges of America's communities using resources provided by grants and the energy and efforts of citizens age 55 and over. Grants administered by AmeriCorps Seniors provide funding for the following programs:
Foster Grandparents are role models, mentors, and friends to children with exceptional needs.
RSVP volunteers utilize their skills and talents while serving in a variety of volunteer activities within their communities.
Senior Companions provide assistance and friendship to older adults who have difficulty with daily living tasks, such as shopping or paying bills.