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RSVP senior program seeks local funding boost

A local organization will have to wait a little while longer to learn if it will receive much needed additional funding from the town.

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) has been serving Pahrump seniors for nearly 30 years.

RSVP officials gave the Pahrump Town Board a presentation Tuesday evening on the services they provide and hope to continue with financial assistance from town.

Representative Jan Lindsey said the services RSVP provides helps more than 130 local low income seniors lead meaningful lives in their “golden years.”

She is seeking $7,500 from the town.

“In 2012, we assisted 134 low income seniors so that they could live in their own homes rather than be put into some kind of facility where they lose their independence. They fear this more than they fear their own deaths,” she said.

In order to maintain the assistance for area seniors, RSVP uses a team of volunteers who perform numerous services including transportation for Pahrump’s aging population.

“We have volunteers who install LifeLine communication devices Lindsey said. “We have trips to medical facilities in Las Vegas as well as Pahrump. Most of our drivers prefer to use their own vehicles because they know their own vehicle. We also have home companion services where we call a senior once a day or week to make sure that they are in fact able to answer their phone. If they are not answering I will make a trip to their home. If it’s in the nighttime, I’ll call the sheriff’s department and they always respond and do a wellness check for us,” she said.

Additional RSVP services provide respite care, Pro Bono legal assistance and independent living services.

All told, costs for RSVP services in 2012 totaled $50,130 last year. Senior volunteers gave 13,727 hours of their time in Pahrump.

RSVP officials say the independent job sector places a value of $21.79 an hour on volunteer services which amounts to nearly $300,000.

Lindsey said the costs of institutionalizing all 134 homebound seniors in Nye County would have run as high as $10 million.

“The services that volunteers are providing to the town of Pahrump are invaluable. I am here to ask the town to subsidize what we do so our programs will remain alive and vital in the town. It will keep us active and our seniors independent at home. I also think it will help to prove once and for all that Pahrump has a big heart,” she said.

Board member Dr. Tom Waters said he supports what the program offers local low income seniors who would not have the services otherwise.

“I would like to say that the RSVP program is one of the most outstanding ones we have in our community,” he said.

RSVP volunteers do earn a modest stipend to pay for expenses during the course of their work such as fuel for transportation.

Their work allows the actual caregivers a little time off even for just a few hours.

“Our respite volunteers go into a home for about four hours once a week to stay with the client while the homemaker takes a much needed break. Some of the homemakers are on the verge of breaking down when we get there. Whenever I go out to do a respite intake to get them registered with RSVP, the caregiver generally breaks down and cries because he or she is just exhausted. They are on duty 24 hours a day, seven days a week and they generally cannot afford to pay $19 dollars an hour for some kind of home health care because it’s very expensive,” she said.

Because the agenda item was just a presentation, Board Chair Harley Kulkin reminded everyone that no action could be taken on the item until the next regular board meeting.

Board member Amy Riches said she too commends the program but will wait until the next meeting before providing more comment.

Vice chair Bill Dolan asked if other government entities have expressed an interest in assisting RSVP.

“Has the county stepped up and offered any kind of funding?” he queried.

Lindsey told the board that county officials may offer assistance if and when they can find the money.

“The county told our executive director that when funds become available, they are willing to help but at this present time, there are no funds,” she said.

RSVP is part of Senior Corps, a network of national and community service programs that each year supports the engagement of nearly 500,000 Americans age 55 and older.

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