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RSVP Programs

“Those who can, do. Those who can do more, volunteer.” ~ Marian Wright Edelman


Volunteers are needed to provide rides for people who do not have a car, do not have access to public transportation, and do not have family or friends to drive them to medical and other necessary appointments. Both in-town and out-of-town drivers are needed. Escorts are sometimes needed to ride along with the drivers and clients and to provide assistance. 

Volunteers are usually reimbursed for their mileage and other expenses.  

For more information about the RSVP Transportation Program, and for specific volunteer needs in your community, please contact your county RSVP coordinator.

School Volunteers

Volunteers are needed in the local schools, working with students of all ages from kindergarten through high school. Volunteers serve as tutors and mentors; speak to classes on topics of interest to them; teach a craft or skill to children; assist teachers and staff in various assignments; and help with special events and outings. 

Volunteers may choose the school where they wish to volunteer, the age of children they prefer to work with, and the amount of time they would like to spend at the school. Volunteers may choose to work with a group of children or be paired one-to-one with a child that needs special attention.

There are also intergenerational service-learning opportunities for RSVP volunteers who want to help students learn while participating in community service projects.

For volunteers who prefer working with older students, RSVP staff can place you at the Iowa Lakes Community College campus in your county working with college students and staff. 

For more information about the RSVP School Volunteer Program, and for specific volunteer needs in your local schools, please contact your county RSVP coordinator.

Pen Pals

Volunteers are needed to participate in Pen Pal programs, exchanging letters with elementary school children for a brief period of time (usually 3-6 weeks), sharing experiences. At the end of the period, the volunteers meet their pen pal at a get-together hosted by the school.

Companionship & Telephone Reassurance

Volunteers are needed to visit residents in their homes who are elderly, frail or who have disabilities. The goal of the Companionship program is to help these individuals retain their independence and maintain their quality of life. In addition to chatting, volunteers will also check on the individuals’ physical and mental status, assess if they need any type of assistance and refer them to needed services in the community. Time required is approximately an hour a week, but scheduling is flexible. 

Volunteers are also needed to provide telephone reassurance to homebound residents. Phone calls are made on a regular basis (daily or weekly) to check on the individual’s overall well-being, provide an outlet for socialization, and alert a neighbor or emergency contact person if there is no answer. 

Your county RSVP coordinator has a list of residents who would appreciate a volunteer “companion.” Contact your county RSVP office for more information.

Nursing Home Visitors

Volunteers are needed to visit local nursing home residents one-on-one or in groups with the goal of reducing isolation and increasing socialization. Activities may include reading to the residents, playing cards or other games, going for walks or  drives, or just chatting with residents. Time required is approximately an hour a week, but scheduling is flexible. 

Volunteers are also needed to spend time with groups of nursing home residents, helping with activities, entertainment, and special events. 

You may choose the care facility at which you would like to serve, and the residents you wish to visit. For more information, contact your county RSVP office.

At-Home Volunteer Opportunities

If you prefer to do volunteer work at home, RSVP can find an at-home volunteer opportunity that matches your skills and interests. Here are a few:

  • Knitting or crocheting caps for newborns at local hospitals
  • Sewing cot covers for Head Start
  • Making stuffed bears to give to children in need
  • Doing mailings, cutting coupons, counting box tops
  • Making caps and mittens for Head Start or elementary students
  • Making blankets for children who are critically ill
  • Telephone Reassurance – Call homebound or isolated residents to chat and to check on their general well-being.

For more information about RSVP at-home volunteer projects, please contact your county RSVP coordinator.

Other Volunteer Opportunities

RSVP has a wide variety of volunteer opportunities. Here are just a few. If you are interested in volunteering for a position that isn’t listed here, please contact your county RSVP coordinator for more volunteer job descriptions.

Advisory Councils, Boards: Several local agencies and organizations have openings on their boards for people 55 and over. Meeting frequency, times and dates vary.

Animals, Pets: Volunteers are needed to help at local humane shelters, walking and feeding pets as well as for office assistants. 

Blood Drives: Volunteers are needed to call potential donors to set appointments and also to assist with registration and snacks during blood drives held in the area. 

Clinics, Health: Volunteers are needed to help with blood pressure and immunization clinics, Lifeline, flu shot clinics, and similar health-related activities and events. 

Clothing & Food Distribution: Help is needed at local food pantries and at organizations that provide clothing for families in need. Volunteers sort food and clothing, as well as working as office assistants. 

Conservation, Beautification, Environmental: The Department of Natural Resources, city and county government, and local parks provide various opportunities for volunteers interested in preserving the environment and/or community beautification. 

Day Care: Volunteers are requested by local non-profit day care facilities to help rock babies, read to children and help with special activities. Frequency, times and days are flexible. 

Disaster Preparedness: Volunteers are needed to assist county emergency management organizations in volunteer reception centers which mobilize in disaster/emergency events.

Domestic Violence: Volunteers are needed to help staff the Family Crisis Center offices and shelters as office assistants, night monitors, and mentors to families. Contact RSVP for volunteer job descriptions.

Fine Arts: Volunteers are needed to help at area community theaters, costume shops, art centers, museums, etc., in many capacities.

Food Distribution: Help is needed for various food distribution programs such as Fare Share, Iowa Share, etc. Volunteer jobs include sorting and boxing food, delivering groceries, and doing paperwork. 

Home-Delivered Meals: Volunteers are needed to deliver Meals-on-Wheels to homebound individuals. 

Hospice/Respite: Volunteers are needed to help families dealing with a terminal illness by providing respite care for patients, allow family members time to run errands, take care of personal needs, and have some “alone” time to de-stress. 

Laker Café: The Laker Café at the Emmetsburg Campus of Iowa Lakes Community College needs volunteers to sell refreshments. Volunteers can pick the days and times. 

Libraries: Volunteers are often needed at various libraries in the 5-county area. Jobs may include greeting library patrons, Adult Literacy programs, material deliveries to the home-bound and in English as a Second Language tutoring.

Literacy: Volunteers are needed to tutor adults who are learning to read or want to improve their reading skills. Volunteers are also needed to help with RIF (Reading is Fundamental) and other book distributions. 

Mentors, Tutors: Tutors are needed for students all ages at various schools in our area. Mentors – volunteers who are willing to spend at least an hour a week one-one-one with a child needing extra attention – are also needed.

Office Help: Various offices of public agencies and non-profit agencies request both ongoing and occasional volunteer assistance to help with mass mailings, computer entry, filing and paperwork, and to serve as receptionists. Contact RSVP for specific volunteer openings.

Payees: Volunteers are needed to help individuals handle their finances, pay bills and provide financial counseling. 

Senior Services: If you’d like to volunteer for an agency that serves seniors, or assist with a program that benefits seniors, please contact RSVP for specific job descriptions.

School Helpers: Besides needing mentors and tutors, schools also request volunteers to help on the playground, at lunch time, and for special activities such as speech, music and athletic events.  

For more information about RSVP volunteer opportunities, please contact your county RSVP coordinator.

RSVP Northwest Iowa Logo


Dawn Bernhard, Director

Questions or comments? Please email us at or call 712-362-2604 or 800-521-5054.
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