The Genesee County Office for the Aging’s RSVP program observed National Service Recognition Day April 3 by highlighting its Medical Transportation service. From left, Courtney Iburi, RSVP Volunteer Placement coordinator; Maureen Estabrooks, specialist, Aging Services; and County Manager Jay Gsell are shown with Medical Transportation volunteer driver Linda Smith. In the passenger’s seat is John Dempski, former Genesee County Nursing Home administrator, who volunteers with the OFA’s tax program.
The sixth annual National Service Recognition Day was observed April 3, and this year the Genesee County Office for the Aging chose to highlight its RSVP volunteers and the Medical Transportation program.
RSVP is in its 32nd year with 300 active volunteers age 55 and older who serve 25 partner agencies in Genesee County, said RSVP coordinator Courtney Iburi.
“I try to connect seniors with volunteer opportunities in the community, based on their skills and meeting the needs of our partner agencies,” Iburi said.
The Medical Transportation program is a vital service which is made possible through the dedication of a core group of volunteers, Iburi said.
The Office for the Aging Transportation Coordination program, which includes medical transportation, is funded by the Rochester Community Foundation’s Muriel H. Marshall Fund for the Aging in Genesee County, in addition to county funds.
The Marshall Fund was created by Batavia native Roxanne Marshall who left $7 million 20 years ago for programs to enhance the quality of life for seniors in Genesee County.
“Many other areas are envious of us,” said County Manager Jay Gsell, who also volunteers as an RSVP driver when needed.
Since its inception, RSVP volunteers have provided more than 1.2 million hours of service, valued at $21.9 million. Last year, RSVP volunteers provided more than 35,000 hours of service, valued at almost $850,000.
“Without this organization, our county wouldn’t have the ability to do what we do,” Gsell said.
Linda Smith decided to become a volunteer driver in the Medical Transportation program after she retired three years ago as a guidance counselor with Social Services.
“I enjoy meeting people and I enjoy driving,” Smith said. “I’m not afraid to drive in the city.”
Maureen Estabrooks, specialist/aging services at the OFA, said they have clients who drive but aren’t comfortable driving in the city.
“It’s been a very rewarding experience,” Smith said. “Especially when clients request me. You see the results of your volunteering immediately.”
In spite of the success of the RSVP program, volunteers are always needed, especially drivers for the Meals on Wheels and Medical Transportation programs. Not only does Gsell volunteer occasionally, but Sheriff William A. Sheron Jr. also volunteers one day a week for Meals on Wheels.
“RSVP’s contribution to our county is significant,” Gsell said. “It’s well run and organized. If you don’t have programs like this, people will suffer.”
He said the senior population has been growing significantly in Genesee County, with 21 percent of the population being 60 or older.
Iburi said in a community the size of Genesee County, people don’t have the opportunity to go from bus to bus and must rely on volunteers, such as RSVP.
RSVP is funded by the federal, state and required county matching funds and private funding, while the Medical Transportation program is funded by similar sources, in addition to State Transportation Services funds, which provides mileage reimbursement to volunteer drivers.
Any senior wishing to volunteer for any RSVP-funded program, especially medical transportation, should contact Iburi at 343-1611.