In rural communities, services, such as grocery stores, medical facilities, and access to public transportation, can be seriously limited. The Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) was created by the Corporation and National Community Service (CNCS) and housed within the Senior Services department at Catholic Social Services of Washtenaw County. The RSVP program seeks out community partnerships who are in need of volunteers to help support their mission and goals. Manchester Community Resource Center director, Laura Seyfried and local RSVP volunteer Delores Notten talk about the program's efforts and goals with WEMU's David Fair in this week's "Washtenaw United."
WEMU has partnered with the United Way of Washtenaw County to explore the people, organizations, and institutions creating opportunity and equity in our area. And, as part of this ongoing series, you’ll also hear from the people benefiting and growing from the investments being made in the areas of our community where there are gaps in available services. It is a community voice. It is 'Washtenaw United.'
United Way of Washtenaw County has provided grant funding to build the capacity of the Community Resource Center in Manchester since 2015. Capacity Building funding is often not spotlighted because it doesn’t always capture the imagination. But United Way invests in Capacity Building because strong organizations lead to stronger communities.
United Way chose to invest Capacity Building at this organization serving a rural community, because Manchester is located approximately 30 miles from Washtenaw County’s Department of Health & Human Services hub in Ypsilanti. There is no form of public transportation connecting community members in Manchester with the services of Washtenaw County’s “urban core.” People that do not have a vehicle or time to travel to access resources struggle with getting connected and fall through the cracks. Community-based organizations, like the Community Resource Center, are vital to reaching folks where they live and helping them meet their basic needs and beyond.
The funding provided the opportunity for the organization to receive leadership and governance training and customized assistance from NEW (Nonprofit Enterprise at Work) to help the organization self-identify where they desired to improve and in service of creating a stronger safety-net in Manchester.
Our partnership with the Community Resource Center also spans our Financial Stability programming. The CRC is our longest standing partner site for our Free Tax Prep program. Dubbed “Scan & Go,” this partnership allows Manchester residents to stop in at the Community Resource Center, have their tax documents scanned to a secure server, and then prepared by United Way tax prep volunteers and re-scanned back to them to pick-up! This innovative way of serving people living in rural areas has allowed us to reach more people each and every year since we piloted it at the CRC. The CRC staff have been instrumental in helping us improve this tool and expand to other partner agencies!
About the Guests
Seyfried joined the Community Resource Center in May 2011 after spending many years at a larger NP organization where she recognized the growing needs of vulnerable people, especially those in rural communities. The lack of available and adequate transportation to life sustaining support being one of the most obvious challenges facing older adults with limited income, family support, and social connectedness. Even though our programming is aimed at all ages, we are serving more and more seniors in the community as the general populations ages. Although she is not a social worker by “trade” (her degree and education is in business), she finds that much of the work we do here at the Community Resource Center is centered around basic education, common sense and working with the skills at hand – she leaves the mental health assessments and ongoing counseling to professional partners – focusing on what we can do to engage the client with the resources available at whatever level they are comfortable with. She wants folks to feel empowered to be in control of their own decisions – in seeking assistance, making changes, and more. That is not always easy, but it is where it starts. Obviously, she isn't able to assist everyone that reaches out to us but we will, at least, connect them with someone/something else to help more.
Delores is a volunteer who is sharing her story about why she volunteers. She is part of Catholic Social Services, Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), and she volunteers at the food pantry at the Community Resource Center in Manchester.
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