United Way of Cascade County’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program recognized more than 300 senior volunteers who volunteered 13,154 hours last year at nonprofits and government agencies. 
The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program partners with more than 70 local nonprofits and agencies to provide volunteers, but last year many agencies were closed or restricted the number of people coming in and out to protect both volunteers and the people they help. 
Some volunteers returned to worksites after being vaccinated, other found ways to help organizations either by working at home or outside. 
Just as volunteers and the worksites where they dedicated their time had to adapt, RSVP adapted their volunteer recognition event. On Tuesday, they invited volunteers to drive through the fairgrounds to receive certificates of service, goodie bags including a gift certificate for coffee donated by Double Barrel and thanks for their hard work. 
At the event, senior volunteers were recognized for giving 30, 25, 15, 10 and 5 years of service. 
Two women were awarded pins for 30-years of volunteer service. Joyce Erickson volunteered 732 hours at the Lewis and Clark Interpretive Center, Vets 4 Vets Stand Down and other events. And Rosemary Liston volunteered 2,223 hours with the Swinging Seniors, which performs for residents at various nursing, assisted living and retirement homes.
Robert Sims was recognized for volunteer work spanning 25 years. In that time, he volunteered 12,334 hours, primarily through Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks and helping other seniors with their taxes through Tax Help Montana. 
Seven volunteers were recognized for 20 years of volunteering. Together, Meredith Anderson, Marilyn Anderson, Karlene Frank, Kay Krezelok, Julia Stevenson, Darlene Wilson and Mary Lu Wentworth, volunteered 23,942 hours during those years. 
Nearly two-thirds of RSVP volunteers give their time and talents at more than one worksite. Though anyone who is 55 and older qualifies for the program, the average age of a senior volunteer is 75.
In Cascade County, RSVP volunteers cook and deliver meals for our community’s most needy, they are the face of Great Falls welcoming visitors and tourists at our museums and they work with children in our school and preschools. Many organizations wouldn’t be able to open their doors without the time and talents of retired and senior volunteers. 
The federal government began RSVP in 1969. United Way was invited to sponsor and manage the program in 2015.
Program Manager Lynette Scriver-Colburn said RSVP has worked hard to grow the number of volunteers and to connect seniors with opportunities where their time and talents can have the most impact. They also prioritize keeping seniors safe. 
 “National service is vital to our community,” she said. “If anything, this past year proved how important volunteers are to so many organizations in our community.”
Locally, RSVP works with 368 volunteers. People in Cascade County who are 55 and older are encouraged to call 727-3400 ext. 500 to register and find volunteer opportunities.