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Volunteers have helped to make Orlando "the city beautiful'

(ran PT edition)

I asked a colleague, Joan S. Hansen, to write an article about her city, Orlando. She is an RSVP director for Orlando. She has given me permission to share it with you. Because we have such a great spirit of volunteerism in Pasco County, I thought this would interest you.

Volunteers in Pasco's RSVP program range in age from 55 to 94 and they share their lifetimes of experience to help make the county a better place to live. I am proud to be the consultant to this group. I consider its members to be among Pasco's most valued residents.

Orlando

Orlando, the City Beautiful! That's my city's slogan. What makes Orlando beautiful? Is it the buildings, the landscaping, the availability of housing, restaurants, entertainment, etc.? Or is it the people?

I believe it's the people. And I believe that the RSVP volunteers who enrich the lives of those living in our community every day in so many ways would be at the top of the list.

"I call on the talents, energy and enthusiasm of our RSVP volunteers on a regular basis," said Mayor Glenda E. Hood. "They are an integral part of the volunteer corps involved in operations throughout our city government. Because of RSVP, we have a better Orlando."

Recognizing the importance of seniors, Hood works closely with the Senior Citizens Advisory Committee, which is led by the director of RSVP.

Wherever you go in Orlando, you will find RSVP volunteers performing their assignments. They are the volunteers who greet you when you arrive at the airport. You really appreciate them if you're a family whose last wish is being granted at Give Kids the World and it's the middle of the night and you don't know where to go or what to do. How welcome is that RSVP volunteer with the warm smile and friendly offer of help.

Visitors to the Orange County Historical Museum learn about the city's past through RSVP volunteers who are interested in preserving the rich heritage of the community and love sharing their knowledge with visitors.

In City Hall, volunteers use their knowledge of customer service practices and interpersonal and communication skills to process customer sales at CityStuff Stores, helping the city raise money through the sale of "recycled" city memorabilia. They're an asset to the city as they use their skills in various areas of merchandising.

In helping keep the city beautiful, RSVP volunteers have adopted 2 miles of city highways. They also provide gardening expertise at the city's Harry P. Leu Gardens, where they prune, plant, guide tours and provide information. "Our children are so proud of us. My son tells everyone we're volunteers at Leu Gardens," said Lois Summers, who finds volunteering with her husband, Alan, therapeutic and fun.

Every city has issues of concern. But we think Orlando is different in the way our seniors demonstrate their concern. They volunteer at the corrections facility, helping inmates get their high school equivalency certificates, knowing that their chances of returning to prison are lessened with each positive experience. They volunteer in the Sheriff's Office VOCAL program, reaching out to other seniors to help prevent crime, and they provide support to the city's Police Department.

One volunteer is concerned about the disabled and wants to be sure that parking spaces are available when they need them. Part of his volunteer time is spent monitoring handicapped parking spaces. When he sees a violator, he writes a ticket.

When the Imperial Tombs of China exhibit was scheduled for Orlando, RSVP volunteers were asked to serve during the 4{ months of the exhibition, which featured artifacts from seven Chinese dynasties.

I believe that the senior volunteers in RSVP are among the most valued of our residents. They are sharing their lifetimes of experience to help ensure that our city stays "the City Beautiful."

_ Carol Keyes is the director of RSVP in Pasco County. You can write to her c/o Seniority, the Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

To volunteer:

Retired and Senior Volunteer Program: (813) 836-2203 or (904) 524-2203

Community Aging and Retirement Services: Port Richey, 862-9291; Land O'Lakes, 996-6509.

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