For 40 years now, RSVP has provided volunteers in a variety of areas in Emmet and other area counties.
Unfortunately, RSVP volunteers are limited to those 55 and over. To attract volunteers under that age, the local RSVP chapter, funded and sponsored by Iowa Lakes Community College, received a grant through the Emmet County Community Foundation as seed money to organize volunteers of all ages for projects throughout the county.
Mary Steele, Iowa Lakes Community College RSVP director, told area volunteers Thursday at Iowa Lakes Community College in Estherville that Linda Anderson, Emmet County RSVP coordinator, will also act as volunteer coordinator for the county-wide volunteer clearing house funded through the grant.
"That seems to be the most cost-efficient way to be a volunteer center," Steele said of combining new volunteer efforts with the existing RSVP.
Describing Thursday's meeting as visionary, Steele said a similar process is under way in Kossuth and Clay counties.
Asking the group to envision a successful county volunteer center five years from now in 2017, Steele asked, "What does this volunteer thing look like?"
A number of answers ensued, including:
n A center occupying a downtown storefront.
n Becoming part of the culture of Estherville.
n Being easily accessible.
n Something for which Emmet County would be known.
n An organization that would make more local events possible.
n Something that makes it easier to be a volunteer.
n Making a positive economic impact.
n Educating people on volunteerism.
n Being responsive.
n Maintaining a balance of volunteers and people.
n Having strong financial support.
n Breaking imaginary barriers.
After a brief poll, the group decided that educating people about volunteering, being something for which Emmet County is known and being able to help offer more events were the main goals they would like to see.
The group then turned its focus to how those goals could be achieved.
Those means included:
n A Web site.
n Cooperation and consolidation of efforts.
n A clear, concise goal.
n Buy-in from the community.
n Defining supply and demand to determine who needs volunteers.
n Helping others achieve their goals.
n Volunteer recognition.