Senior’s RSVP program will fold this month

HUDSON — Columbia Opportunities, Inc. (COI), the county Community Action Agency, has decided to relinquish sponsorship of the Columbia County RSVP project effective June 30. The non-profit organization said the move resulted from the loss of funding and lack of staff and active volunteers.

The release announcing the decision said the COI Board of Directors found it was no longer possible to maintain the quality of the program. The board voted on May 22 to give up a federal for RSVP and close down the 27-year-old program.

“The program has struggled financially since last April when RSVP funding was cut by 20% at the federal level,” Tina Sharpe, executive director of COI, said in the release. The state budget reduced state funding for the project by 80%.

The organization planned to raise private funds and cut staff, and the county offered free space. But the number of active RSVP volunteers and volunteer hours decreased, and participation in the once popular R.I.D.E. program, a special volunteer driver medical transportation initiative, had diminished.

Marcella Beigel, retiring RSVP director, encouraged area seniors to continue their volunteer work with other programs or organizations. “When you volunteer, you’re not just helping others — you’re helping yourself,” Ms. Beigel said in the release. “Volunteering leads to new discoveries and new friends. Studies also show that volunteering helps people live longer and promotes a positive outlook on life.”

The Columbia County Healthcare Consortium will provide medical transportation to R.I.D.E. customers, effective immediately and is encouraging RSVP volunteers to apply for part-time driver positions at 518 822-8020.

For more information on COI, which is funded through a variety of federal, state, and private sources, call 518 828-4611.

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