City Saves Money on Volunteers
A new Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of San Angelo and West Texas Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) could offer both the City and volunteers more opportunities and save the City an estimated $33,500.
“We work with the City in a number of capacities,” says RSVP Executive Director Dolores Schwertner. “Basically, what we do is we recruit volunteers 55 years of age or older to do volunteer work in the community. We work through nonprofit, governmental and public agencies to do so.”
RSVP has been working with local entities since their inception in 1981, among them the San Angelo Police Department. Volunteers apply with RSVP and indicate their interests and skills, and the organization then tries to find a suitable position.
Before RSVP can begin sending volunteers to a certain agency, the MOU must be in place. “Basically, that outlines our responsibilities, the agency’s responsibilities, our mutual responsibilities, and then what the agency is requesting the volunteers for…once that’s done, we start recruiting volunteers for those positions,” Schwertner said.
Previously, RSVP had a memorandum in place with the Police Department and other local agencies, however following a merger between Concho Valley RSVP and Big Country RSVP the memorandum has to be updated.
“When the request for MOU came up, the City Clerk’s Office thought that that this might be something that Human Resources would be interested in, in utilizing citywide when the need for volunteers come up,” Lisa Marley said in a presentation to City Council on Tuesday. “It doesn’t limit us to use the RSVP volunteers, but it does give us another resource…”
The addition of RSVP as a hiring pool of volunteers for the City eliminates the need to add staff for events, which is estimated to save the City $33,500 in salary and benefits. The proposed MOU that was brought to Council Tuesday arranges for City Manager Daniel Valenzuela to engage in a memorandum specifically with the police department, then allow for future MOUs to be drafted for other City departments that need volunteers.
At the police department, volunteers work “wherever they feel comfortable,” Lt. Mike Hernandez says. “There’s several places that they can help us as far as our criminal investigation division goes. They make phone calls to victims for us in reference to misdemeanor cases, they do filing for us in records, we reach out to every division in the police department—anything that needs extra help. They also assist us over in municipal court,” Hernandez says.
West Texas RSVP has an average of 620-700 volunteers. Of those, the San Angelo Police Department employs on average two to three at any given time, and six to seven throughout the year. The PD also has its own volunteer system in place for graduates of the Citizen’s Police Academy, where the majority of police department volunteers come from.
“They’ll always check with us as far as somebody that goes to them and says, ‘I sure would like to volunteer for the Police Department,’” Hernandez says. “They’re not going to be involved in anything that’s case-sensitive. When I say filing, it’s a closed packet, it’s a closed case…the citations have already been dealt with.”
Schwertner says that volunteerism has numerous benefits for senior citizens. “When they start volunteering, they make a connection and it enhances their lives, but studies show that it not only enhances the volunteers’ lives and the clients, it enhances their mental and physical health…and we see it through what we do day in and day out.”
West Texas RSVP is continually recruiting volunteers. As part of their service, volunteers are covered under an insurance plan funded by grants from federal organizations, are treated to various RSVP activities and receive a weekly newsletter.
City Council voted to approve the new memorandum Tuesday with a vote of 6-0.
For more information on West Texas RSVP, drop by their office at 618 S. Chadbourne Street or call 325-223-6388.