RSVP volunteer likes pitching in, sharing interests

Volunteering is a huge part of life for Stanleyville resident Norma Schultheis, 71. Even before retiring from Marietta City Schools, Schultheis was already involved with the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), spinning her passion for crafting into a means to get involved.

The great thing about RSVP, said Schultheis, is that it lets people tap into the things they already love and find a way to turn that love into a way to help.

“RSVP offers a variety of ways to plug into the community. So whatever you like to do, they have a list you can go over and find something that appeals to you,” she said.

According to RSVP director Lisa Valentine,

Schultheis has picked an awful lot of things off that list. At this point, it is hard to find an activity where Schultheis has not volunteered her time, joked Valentine.

“She’s our stepper-upper. She is always stepping up and taking on new activities,” she said.

Question: What exactly is RSVP?

Answer: It’s a program for seniors that helps them get out of the house and go help in the community. It connects you to people in the area that need help. They offer a variety of services. Like they take people to their doctors appointments and help take them to run errands.

Q: What did you do before retiring?

A: I worked for Marietta City Schools as an aide for kids with disabilities.

Q: So did you get involved with RSVP when you retired?

A: Actually I started before I retired (around the summer of 2005). I was interested in crafts and the O’Neill Center had a thing called Tuesday Crafters. I came and helped a lot with that. We still meet here (at the O’Neill Center) twice a month.

Q: Where are some of the places you volunteer?

A: I volunteer at WASCO about three times a month. I go in with the senior adults and do crafts. We recently made some room decorations, turning a yellow plate into a smiling sun. I volunteer at the Sweet Corn Festival and I do the Sternwheel Festival through the extension office. There I help run a 4-H lemonade shake stand. I’ve helped at Colony Fest. And I volunteer at the Community Food Pantry at the First Congregational Church. Today I’m helping with the commodity boxes at the (Washington County) Fairgrounds.

Q: What are commodity boxes?

A: Once a month seniors can sign up and receive a box of food. I help distribute them around the first of the month.

Q: What do you enjoy about volunteering with RSVP?

A: It gives me an opportunity to do things that I wasn’t able to do when I was working. It’s just rewarding and a good way to give back to the community.

Q: Any particularly rewarding experiences you can recall?

A: The pantry-it opens your eyes to see how many people are in need of food and just how grateful they are to receive your help. You see the smile on somebody’s face and see that you’ve helped somebody somehow. It’s just little things that make you appreciate it.

Jasmine Rogers conducted this interview.