Welcome to Central Iowa RSVP
(Retired & Senior Volunteer Program)
Central Iowa RSVP (CIRSVP) is a dynamic National Service Program serving Story, Marshall, Webster, and Hamilton Counties in Iowa. CIRSVP, established in 1973, has proven to be a highly effective volunteer management organization, adapting programming over the years to meet emerging community needs and changing demographics. Check us out!
RSVP offers adult volunteers aged 55+ quality opportunities to share their skills, interests, and life experiences in response to a wide variety of community needs. Serving Story (since 1973), Webster, Hamilton, and Marshall (since 2003) County, RSVP recruits and places volunteers with over 80 public, non-profit, and health care agencies. For these organizations, RSVP staff process volunteer requests, promote volunteer needs, recruit and refer volunteers, and follow up on volunteer placements. RSVP collaborates with many of these agencies to provide volunteer management support in addressing identified priority community needs (literacy and education, public safety, services to frail elderly and/or low income families, disaster preparedness, etc.). RSVP volunteers cannot replace paid staff, but instead provide valuable support that enhances or supplements the services of an organization.
The Needs are GREAT...The Time is NOW...
The Solution is YOU!
Ames man driven by desire to get others to their destination
by Elizabeth Johnston For the Ames Tribune
Ken Mahler has driven 33,510 miles to 1,292 appointments. But those trips to the grocery store, bank and doctor’s appointments haven’t been for himself. They’ve been for other people in Story County.
Mahler, with his Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, volunteers with the driving program for the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). The program that started in January 2010 helps Story County residents get to important appointments and everyday trips with the aid of more than 40 volunteer drivers.
“They (the volunteer drivers) are really making a huge difference for people,” said Kalen Petersen, director of Central Iowa RSVP.
RSVP is a United Way partner agency, and the driving program was started at the request of United Way to supplement to existing transportation services.
Mahler was involved with volunteering for the RSVP disaster services when he heard about the driving program.
“When I heard about it, I thought it was something I wanted to do,” he said. “I enjoy driving, and meeting and helping people, so they fit right together.”
He started driving for RSVP in 2013. He lives in Ames, but has driven riders all over Story County. He has even traveled to Des Moines, Fort Dodge and Iowa City to help riders make important appointments outside of the county. These out-of-county trips depend on the availability of drivers, since it can become an all-day trip.
“Ken is one of our most requested drivers,” Petersen said. “Clients will call and ask if Ken is going to be available.”
In a typical week, Mahler volunteers to drive anywhere from just one day to a few times. The average ride is 2 1/2 hours.
“I drive enough where I don’t really have a whole lot of free time to become bored,” he said.
Mahler is still part of the RSVP disaster relief services, and he loves travel and photography when he’s not volunteering.
After six years of volunteer driving, the thousands of miles Mahler has added to his truck — nearly 10,000 more than it is to get around the Earth at the equator — doesn’t faze him.
“It’s not even a concern,” Mahler said. “When (RSVP) gave me the date of how many miles I had driven, I didn’t think about it. I asked them if they were going to buy me a new car.”
All he gets in return is a 35-cent-per-mile reimbursement, and the opportunity to meet new people and build new relationships.
“The other jobs I had when I was working, I dealt with people a lot,” he said. “I met a lot of strangers, and talked to them to learn more about them, and then they learn about me. With driving and meeting new people, I was just comfortable in doing it.”
Riders in the program also appreciate the social aspect of the drives.
“Several have expressed they love to have an opportunity to visit with the drivers about current events, keep up with things happening in the community,” Petersen said. “That piece of it is important to the clients.”
The RSVP driving program will celebrate its 10-year anniversary in January. All drivers must go through a background check and Department of Motor Vehicle check to be in the program. Riders also have to apply for the program and take an assessment to evaluate their appropriateness for the program. To learn more about the RSVP driving program, visit www.rsvpvolunteer.org