Senior volunteer program on mayor’s chopping block

The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, is America's largest volunteer network for people age 55 and over.  Right now, it sits on the mayor's budgetary chopping block.

At 91–years–old, Norma Cochrane is still working the information desk at the Capitol.  She says, “It's a fun place to work.  We meet lots of people.  Answer lots of questions.”

She's been doing this job for 13 years as part of RSVP.  She says the program keeps her active in the community and gets her out of the house.  Cochrane says she, “didn't want to get in the rut of watching TV all day.”

But she may soon be on her own as the city council works through the mayor's budget calling for an end to RSVP.  The program works with more than 600 retired and senior volunteers.  About 160 of them volunteer at city or county government offices and many more offer their time with 90 non–profit organizations in the Lincoln area.

Although all volunteers, Aging Partners still relies on city funding for insurance and transportation needs. Ending the program would save the city $149,000.

Cochrane says if the city does cut the program, she hopes someone else in the community will pick it up.  “The volunteers are a contributing factor for lots of places in the city, in the state, everywhere.  We're not paid, but we do serve the public and I think it's very important work.”

RSVP also receives federal funding and that money is questionable too as congress continues to work out a deal to cut government spending.