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Retired & Senior Volunteer Program Recognition Event

The Burlington County Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), a nation-wide program funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service and by the Burlington County College (BCC) Office of Community and Student Services, will honor its dedicated volunteers at the Volunteer Recognition Event on Thursday, Oct. 4 at 11 a.m. at BCC’s Mount Holly Center, 1 High Street.

RSVP offers “one-stop-shopping” for anyone aged 55 and over who wants to find challenging, rewarding and significant volunteer opportunities in Burlington County. Last year, the organization contributed more than a half million dollars in services to Burlington County and helped more than 8,000 individuals.

The event will highlight those who have dedicated 20 years of service to the organization. The following volunteers will be receiving this honor: Connie Crist of Medford, Harriet Di Leonardo of Willingboro and Alice Farkas of Lumberton.

Connie Crist, a 28-year resident of Medford, has been volunteering with RSVP since 1992. Since she began volunteering, she has served as a bookkeeper, gift shop sales clerk and American Red Cross volunteer. Her first experience in volunteering was at the consignment shop at Virtua Hospital in Marlton, where she has volunteered for more than 18 years. In 1995, Crist was one of the first volunteers to be used by the Burlington County Library. At the age of 83, she completes more than 100 hours of volunteer work each month. The ability to do something for the community motivates her as a volunteer. “It's good to get out each day. This way I can do something for somebody while doing something for me,” Crist said.

Harriet Di Leonardo of Willingboro recognized the need for volunteers at the gift shop at Rancocas Valley Hospital (now Lourdes Medical Center of Burlington County) after her husband became ill. Soon after the loss of her husband, she began volunteering. In addition to volunteering at Lourdes for 13 years, she has been a Literacy Volunteer of America for 17 years as an English as a Second Language (ESL) examiner. In 1999, she became an instructor for Project Healthy Bones, an osteoarthritis risk reduction and exercise program, and continues to lead group classes in the community. She also became a swimming instructor for the Learning Is For Everyone (LIFE) program in 2003. Harriet cites her upbringing and credits her mother's commitment to volunteering as the primary reason for her commitment to volunteerism. She believes that because volunteering keeps her active, it makes her a better person - both inside and out.

Alice Farkas of Lumberton began volunteering for RSVP in 1991. She began by donating her time to Interfaith Caregivers as a driver and at 83 years old, she is still driving and transporting seniors for The Tender, an organization that provides services to seniors and caregivers including medical transportation for homebound seniors and respite and support for caregivers. A homebound relative in North Jersey provided Farkas with the motivation to volunteer. Farkas could not personally help her relative, so she decided she wanted to help others dealing with similar situations. “I’ve met wonderful people. It’s a very rewarding thing to do for others and I get a lot out of it myself too,” she said. Farkas also volunteers for the St. Vincent de Paul Society at their food pantry in Mount Holly.

The event will recognize new volunteers and those with one year and five, 15 and 20 years of service. BCC President David Hespe, BCC Vice President of Academic Programs David Spang, RSVP Director Karen Bennett and BCC Foundation Executive Director Rebecca Corbin will be speaking and presenting more than 100 awards at the event, which will run from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.