Senior volunteers praised for service

NEW ULM – The volunteer spirit of senior citizens received praise on Tuesday when they were recognized at an open house event.

The event coincided with a proclamation by New Ulm Mayor Robert Beussman designating April 5 as the day of National Volunteer Service and thanking members of Common Good RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) members for their hard work and dedication.

Lora Brady, RSVP coordinator, praised the volunteer spirit of New Ulm’s senior residents.

The event took place in New Ulm because the city has one of the largest number of Senior Corps volunteers in southern Minnesota. Brady said that 75 RSVP volunteers alone worked in New Ulm, and nearly another 150 citizens over the age of 55 are working with other worthy programs. In addition to the RSVP volunteers, New Ulm has teams of senior volunteers working the foster grandparent program, senior companions, Meals on Wheels, and various tutoring programs through the schools.

Beussman credited New Ulm’s strong work ethic as a reason the city continues to generate a large number of senior volunteers. The volunteers are seeing the benefits of staying active.

Ron Anderson, a senor companion volunteer, visits Oak Hills 24 hours each week to spend time with residents. He sees the volunteer work as having its own reward.

“I love it,” said Anderson. “When you can generate a smile out of someone, it’s just great!”

Anderson plays cards, exercises, and talks with the Oak Hills residents. At age 65, Anderson cannot think of a better way to spend his spare time.

Volunteer work done by New Ulm’s seniors also extends to surrounding communities. The senior dining program operated out the Community Center makes close to 250 meals a day, five days a week. One hundred are delivered in New Ulm, but the rest go to Meals on Wheels program residents in Sleepy Eye, Springfield, Comfrey and St. James.

Common Good RSVP places an estimated $22 value on each hour volunteered. In the last year, over 7,000 volunteer hours were documented, meaning the senior citizen volunteers gave New Ulm close to $154,000 worth of service.