Turning lemon into lemonade. Here’s how RSVP CEO Michelle Mol sees the continuing need to deploy 1,200 Delaware Valley Community Service volunteers over the V-Virtual epidemic.

Referring to 2021, Molly said: “This year I realized that there will always be room for virtual volunteering. It allows us to reach people we could never reach before. It also allows us to include volunteers who may have mobility or disability problems, or who simply prefer to provide their services at home. ”

Many RSVP programs focus on supporting education, health, and other nonprofit organizations. Last year, her volunteers, many of them elderly, often went to schools and other community locations. The need to go virtual has created new ways to provide long-term services, such as a new application that seeks to bring online technologies to people who do not have digital skills or access.

Asked to describe their highlights of 2021, five RSVP project coordinators described ways in which remote services have benefited the community, sometimes with new features.

Technology training

Launched late last year, the program to turn seniors into online skills has become a powerful initiative to “bridge the divide”, said Tech Training Coordinator Michel Hang. He develops illustrated online lessons in five areas: Internet Security, e. mail, web browsers, applications և Zoom:

Several nonprofit organizations in Chester և RSVP have teamed up to form the Digital Equity Coalition. They intend to bring online access և skills to Kenneth Square farm workers who often do not have them. Through this coalition, Hang is “training trainers from trusted community organizations” who, in turn, will provide online training in the spring of 2022 for those who have not been able to work online.

RSVP also discusses with several school districts the provision of Internet skills to parents who have been deprived of services such as online assessment reports and teacher conferences.

“My strong point is to develop a material that can eventually help hundreds, even thousands, of people,” Hang said. “It’s a huge ‘big picture,’ I’m excited to see what impact we can make.”

“I’re training for RSVP technology sessions so we can teach families,” explained Kelly Figueroa, Kenneth’s United School District Teaching Technology Coach.

He envisions a process where “when new families enroll in school, the registry will ask if they need communication or training. We will make sure that all our families have access to the Internet and the knowledge to use it. ”

RSVP online lessons “were excellent. “The amount of information they were able to provide is not surprising,” he said.

Mathematics and reading programs are expanding

The epidemic has expanded to RSVP’s already virtual math curriculum, My Free Tutor, as well as more sophisticated software to the VELLO Virtual Reading program for first- to fifth-graders along the Greater Philadelphia’s South Road. New Jersey.

“My strength in 2021 is that we have been able to expand our virtual math curriculum not only to serve high school students but also third-graders, first-generation college-age students,” said My Free Tutor Coordinator. Anabella Tracy. “It in turn opened the program to volunteer home teachers who may be afraid to teach high school math but have comfortable teaching skills such as multiplication.”

Jackie Matusov, RSVP Literacy Program Coordinator, said 2021 saw a positive response from parents of elementary school students who receive VELLO literacy instruction. The program started in the summer of 2020.

“Parents told me that their children did much better at reading, that VELLO had a lot of that improvement,” he said.

“Other parents say their children are very excited about reading now. “We also found that children, parents and volunteers became more confident in their online technology skills,” Matusov said.

“I feel so fortunate to have the support of wonderful volunteer educators,” said Aheyon Beck, whose first- and third-grade sons began VELLO reading classes in the summer. “We speak Korean at home. I did not want them to miss school. “Their ratings meet or exceed expectations. The program has improved their interest in reading.”

More help for other nonprofits

For many years, through its Voluntary Executive Advisers (VECs), RSVP has helped other nonprofits raise funds, specialize in their activities, and engage participants. “Last year the epidemic forced VEC to provide its services through Zoom teleconferencing, and this year we’ve used Zoom to expand our reach in several ways, ‘” said Sherry Burke, project manager.

For example, attending a number of spring-autumn seminars offered to non-commercial managers is no longer limited to the 40 people who can be accommodated in the RSVP’s King of Prussia’s conference room.

“At our Meet the Funders seminar in September, 63 participants learned about fundraising strategies,” Burke said. “Not only that, we are recording seminars so that people who have not been able to attend can watch them later.”

“Virtualization has allowed us to help more people than ever before, including volunteer counselors living outside the area,” he said. “We now have one VEC living in Minnesota, and another joined us from the Leh Valley,” he said.

Alan Frankel, retired corporate executive consultant, has led many VEC teams.

“We can do more with Zoom than we could in the past. “It is much easier to bring people together, it allows us to include more volunteers who are still working,” he said.

In 2021, Frankel led the VEC team, which sometimes included seven volunteers. They helped the Maryland Foundation for Dentistry create a procedure manual for its 250-300 dentists who provide free services to low-income people. They also developed a marketing և communication plan և program to recruit and retain volunteer dentists.

“Neither the dentists nor our volunteers could have done it without Zoom,” said Frankel, a RSVP board member.

Medicare advice includes appeals

Specially trained RSVP volunteers provide free Medicare counseling to Montgomery County residents through the federally funded PA MEDI program. Prior to COVID-19, they were spreading the word in various parts of the region.

In 2020 և 2021, telephone calls replaced և Zoom teleconferencing with one-on-one sessions. RSVP’s 27 volunteer consultants assisted 344 beneficiaries in 2021. during the open registration period, said program coordinator Douglas Keane.

Many of these calls helped seniors decide which Medicare programs to enroll in or change. But Keene’s main focus for 2021 included other types of consulting offered by PA MEDI. How to appeal when a Medicare prescription drug insurer refuses to pay for a medicine.

“I helped a woman’s husband who was prescribed a drug that was so unprecedentedly expensive that few could afford it,” Keane said. “Medicare has a five-step grievance process. We have worked on the third step, the appeal heard by the administrative law judge. ”

Keane himself provided counseling “to gain experience myself and to train volunteers to help when called upon.”

“I spent weeks trying to get help from lawyers և Medicare support groups, but no one could help me until I got a link to RSVP. I left a message, և Doug immediately called, “said the husband.

He said that without additional help, his wife’s annual cost of medication, even if prescribed by Medicare, would be more than $ 20,000.

“Doug is an amazing boy, thoughtful, knowledgeable and caring,” he said. “He and I sat together for two hours and collected five different exhibits to support the cause.”

Keane also helped appeal to a drug manufacturer that has a patient care plan. The results of these appeals are awaited.

For more information on RSVP volunteer opportunities և programs, write to volunteer123@rsvpmc.org or call 610-834-1040, ext. 123.

Non-Commercial RSVP connects volunteers with dozens of community service opportunities. Its programs improve the lives of vulnerable people by focusing on education and health.