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Senior citizens use lifetime of experience to make daily difference in community

When considering retirement, one often views it through a lens of relaxation and taking a final break from work. Fortunately for the citizens of Burlington County, each year countless seniors vow to take a different approach. 

Through the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), established in 1974, members of the 55+ population use their skills, experience and talents to meet the needs and challenges of their local communities. RSVP partners with area non-profit agencies to foster civic engagement and positively impact the community. In fact, RSVP members provide free services to Burlington County residents worth more than $425,000 per year.

Donna Dart, of Mount Laurel, facilitates RSVP’s Living a Healthy Life With Chronic Pain and Fit & Strong! programs. As each class progresses, she sees positive changes in the senior citizens in her groups. The more they learn, the more their confidence grows. 

“After providing care for both of my elderly parents, I realized that senior citizens are truly an underserved population in New Jersey. I am hopeful that those with osteoarthritis, like those in the chronic pain program, will develop the confidence and ability to take control of their own lives,” Dart said. 

RSVP participants impact people from all walks of life. Services include academic and literacy tutoring, health education, financial management assistance, tax preparation and senior citizen companionship. 

“Over the years, I have volunteered for many different organizations; however, working with seniors is the most rewarding experience I’ve had. I look forward to many more years with RSVP,” Dart said. 

Stephen Hyzer, of Cinnaminson, facilitates several of RSVP’s evidence-based health and fitness programs and has witnessed firsthand the benefits of helping others. Through his programs, he assists seniors by leading stretching and strengthening exercises, as well as encouraging them to implement various coping mechanisms to deal with chronic pain and disease.  

“My experience with RSVP can be summed up by saying that no matter what I’ve volunteered to do, I know that I am learning and helping folks. I would encourage any senior with some spare time on their hands to come and volunteer with us,” Hyzer said.  

RSVP is funded by the Corporation for National and Community Service and Rowan College at Burlington County. 

This story is part of RCBC’s 50 stories for 50 years. In honor of the college’s 50th anniversary, RCBC is profiling students, faculty, administrators, alumni and the college community. Anyone interested in being featured can contact rcbcnews@rcbc.edu. To follow along on social media, use #RCBC50Stories