Jewish Family Service of MetroWest has been named the lead agency in a program to recruit seniors as volunteers for social service agencies and local causes in and outside the Jewish community.
The opportunities range from staffing food pantries and child-care programs to taking part in projects that advocate for military families and domestic violence victims.
The Retired & Senior Volunteer Program Center of Essex and Hudson Counties, or RSVP, will operate on a $139,000 annual grant from the federal government for the next three years.
“JFS will be the central hub where volunteers can come to review opportunities and be matched with something in their area or in a field that they want to make a difference in, and we will place them,” said program director Stephanie Grove.
RSVP is a program of the Corporation for National and Community Service, a federal agency that promotes service through its Senior Corps, AmeriCorps, Social Innovation Fund, and United We Serve.
The program is open to seniors in Essex and Hudson counties.
“We place volunteers in nonprofits, public agencies, or health-care agencies,” Grove said.
Some of them fall under the aegis of the Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, of which JFS is a partner agency. These include the WAE Center, a West Orange program for people with developmental disabilities; the Friendship Circle in Livingston, which matches teenage mentors with children with special needs; the Daughters of Israel nursing home in West Orange; and the federation itself.
Other opportunities include volunteer work at the Red Cross, Mountainside Hospital, Travelers Aid, and the United Way of Essex and West Hudson.
Volunteers for RSVP will receive free supplemental accident, liability, and automobile insurance while traveling to and from their assignments.
RSVP dates back to the 1970s, but Essex and Hudson counties have not been a part of it since 2011. Since launching in July, JFS MetroWest has already recruited 15 RSVP volunteers.
“But we hope to have more that 400 volunteers over the next three years,” Grove said. “I am very excited to begin the program.”