Giuliani, named RSVP director, reflects on program and its benefits

Lori Giuliani

ESCANABA — Lori Giuliani, named director of the Community Action Agency Retired and Senior Volunteer Program last month, said a big part of her job is matching volunteers with sites. A bonus, she said, is the volunteers who teach her much about the program and the rewards and satisfaction gained from volunteering.

“I learn so much from our volunteers. I see their faces light up when they work with Reading Buddies. Just to see what they gain from helping others is rewarding,” Giuliani said.

RSVP works with 385 active volunteers throughout Menominee, Delta and Schoolcraft counties, matching them with sites that benefit from their volunteerism. The volunteers’ main emphasis is education, disaster services via Red Cross blood drives, and improving economic opportunities via St. Vincent de Paul and Salvation Army.

RSVP’s Reading Buddies matches volunteers with first- and second-graders. The volunteers read to the students and provide a positive role model to children throughout the three-county area. Reading Buddies began locally in one school in 1996 and has grown to three schools, with plans to add a fourth this fall.

“RSVP offers adults 55 and over volunteer opportunities, which improves lives and strengthens communities by sharing their skills and experiences,” Giuliani said.

She was named RSVP coordinator in 2013 before transferring to CAA Senior Services, where she worked until being named RSVP director last month. “I’m happy to come back and see what I can contribute to the program,” she said.

“There are still some volunteers that were here when I started in 2013. It has been fun getting to reconnect with them. It’s encouraging to me to see that they’re still out there helping others,” Giuliani said.

She emphasized the program is all about the volunteers.

“This is not my program, it’s the volunteers’ program. Ultimately, they’re the face of RSVP. The volunteers deserve all the credit for what they do,” she said.

Giuliani and her coordinator, Leslie Moulds, are busy contacting volunteer sites, seeing what their needs are and how they can be best served by the program.

“I need to build a relationship with the station managers, our volunteers and our staff. I’m excited to see the volunteers in action. It’s all about promoting good communication,” she said.

Following training and orientation, RSVP volunteers receive:

— Free volunteer placement.

— Supplemental Excess Auto Liability Excess Volunteer Liability.

— Volunteer Accident Insurance.

— Dinners and honors at an annual recognition banquet.

RSVP is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Michigan Department of Health and Human Services/Aging and Adult Services Agency, Edward J. Sackerson Foundation, Superior Health Foundation, and the United Way of Delta County.

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