MARIETTA - Early this year Air Force Tech Sgt. Mitch Bauerbach was serving in Afghanistan with the 220th Engineering Installation Squadron from Zanesville when his unit received 30 care packages from Washington County's Retired and Senior Volunteer (RSVP) program.
"I had these packages spread all around my bunk," Bauerbach, now back home in Waterford, told RSVP members during a Senior Corps Week event at the O'Neill Center Monday afternoon.
"My nine-man team took care of most of the packages, but any extra items went to other soldiers who needed them," he said.
Photo by Sam Shawver
Air Force Tech Sgt. Mitch Bauerbach, left, presented an American Flag to Jaye Warman with the Washington County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) at the O’Neill Senior Center Monday afternoon. RSVP sent 30 care packages to Bauerbach’s unit in Afghanistan earlier this year.
Bauerbach, 28, said care packages were usually few and far between for the unit overseas.
"So to get 30 packages at once was really huge," he said.
As a gesture of thanks Monday, Bauerbach presented the RSVP volunteers with an American Flag on behalf of his squadron.
Retired and Senior Volunteer Program provides a variety of opportunities for volunteers 55 years and older.
In 2011, RSVP members volunteered 48,652 hours - worth more than $1 million to the local community.
RSVP has 293 volunteers serving 57 nonprofit organizations in Washington County.
Volunteers are always needed and welcome. Call (740) 373-3107 or visit www.rsvpwc.org
RSVP Director Lisa Valentine said the 30 care packages filled with snacks, toiletries, soaps, razors and other items for the soldiers were assembled for mailing on Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year. But the effort is just one example of many services the volunteers provide throughout the year.
"This is the second year for Senior Corps Week-a time when we celebrate the contributions of our senior volunteers," Valentine said. "We have 293 active volunteers who serve 57 nonprofit organizations across Washington County."
She said volunteers, age 55 and older, are always welcome and needed for a variety of challenging opportunities serving the local community.
RSVP Advisory Council President Dennis Urban, 73, has been a volunteer for more than eight years.
"I just enjoy getting out and meeting people and really enjoy the opportunity to give back to the community," he said.
Among his many other efforts, Urban's volunteerism includes providing annual tax return assistance for area residents as an AARP tax aide; serving on the board of directors for the Toy and Doll Museum in Harmar Village, and serving on boards for the Campus Martius and Ohio River Museums.
Alice Mugrage, 64, of Marietta has volunteered with RSVP for several years. She said volunteering keeps her going.
"I just wanted something to do, and to be able to give something back to others, and I keep pretty busy," she said.
Mugrage assists in getting out the organization's newsletter and volunteers as an ombudsman for the state, advocating for patient rights at area nursing homes.
Her friend, Patty Newbrough, 69, from Marietta, helps with the newsletter.
"I'm starting into my second year with RSVP, and I love it," she said. "I really enjoy working with people."
Joann Murray, 78, of Marietta, agreed.
"I just love being with other people and being able to help out," she added.
Bill Farnsworth, director of Marietta's Community Food Pantry, said the 30 RSVP volunteers who assist at the pantry provide an invaluable service.
"Some work as many as 12 hours a week; they help people carry food and help them get into their cars," he said. "One volunteer even hands Popsicles out to kids, and when he runs out he buys more out of his own pocket. What a godsend these volunteers have been."
Washington County Commissioner Tim Irvine called RSVP "a tremendous asset for our county."
"These people have volunteered over 48,000 hours in 2011, and I'm told that's worth more than $1 million to the community," he said.
Active locally since 1973, RSVP is sponsored by the Washington County commissioners.