OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – For nearly 40 years, Beth Patterson has been focused on serving seniors.
Sometimes, they just need a lift.
That’s where “Provide-a-Ride” comes in handy.
It’s just one facet of the Retired Volunteer Senior Program – or RSVP founded by Patterson, the program’s executive director.
“We have volunteer drivers who are seniors who pick them up at home, drive them to their doctor’s appointment, wait the whole time, then swing by the pharmacy if need be and bring them home safe and sound,” Patterson said.
Patterson has helped countless seniors in her 39 years with RSVP.
She was in her 20s when she started there.
“My friends would say what are you doing working with seniors – they’re so crabby, they’re so negative, they’re not fun to be around and I said you’ve got it wrong!” she recalled.
RSVP’s mission is Patterson’s passion – matching older adults with volunteer opportunities best suited to them.
“They’re teaching kids how to read, they’re distributing food to the homeless, they are handing out food to people who are recently unemployed – that have families,” said Patterson. “They need to eat.”
Last year, the 500 volunteers served nearly 100,000 hours
“So if we paid our volunteers for what they do in our community, it would be close to $2 million,” said Patterson. “So they’re saving tax dollars by providing service to our community also.”
Patterson says getting to work is the most beneficial for seniors who are going through a major life change
“Whether they’ve been married 50 years and now they’ve lost their spouse or they’re no longer employed and they thought fishing would work for seven days a week and now they’re tired of fishing seven days a week or traveling or whatever it was they thought they’d spend their retirement years doing,” she said.
Their volunteer work saves – and changes – lives.
Patterson says it’s the seniors she works with – that are truly remarkable.
“It’s their inspiration, their dedication, overcoming obstacles that just make me realize that I am blessed,” said Patterson. “I am blessed to be around these people day-in and day-out.”