Hancock Co. RSVP program braces for loss of federal funding - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

Hancock Co. RSVP program braces for loss of federal funding

Smith said the program needs to keep going for the sake of hundreds of senior citizens and for the benefit of the dozens of nonprofit organizations they serve. (Photo source: WLOX) Smith said the program needs to keep going for the sake of hundreds of senior citizens and for the benefit of the dozens of nonprofit organizations they serve. (Photo source: WLOX)
HANCOCK COUNTY, MS (WLOX) -

Waveland's mayor believes a solution can be found so senior citizens who want to volunteer don't have to struggle to come up with gas money. Mayor Mike Smith said the Hancock County Retired Senior Volunteer Program is on track to lose federal funding come September.

The City of Waveland sponsors the Hancock County RSVP program. Smith said the program needs to keep going for the sake of hundreds of senior citizens and for the benefit of the dozens of nonprofit organizations they serve.

Whether it's here at the Hancock County Welcome Center or somewhere else, Admiral Vaughn and his wife, Beverly, enjoy helping out where they are needed. The couple has been volunteering once a week with Hancock County RSVP for 15 years.

"I just want to meet the people, and I think sometimes they like to meet us," said Admiral. "So, we try to do what we can to meet them."

"I enjoy meeting people, and it gets me away from the home. I hope they don't do away with it,” Beverly said.

If the Hancock County RSVP program does go away for lack of funding, Smith said 25 organizations will be hurt.

"Infinity. They volunteer there. They volunteer at the schools. There are different cities they volunteer for. Just a range of things they volunteer for," said Smith. "Once I learned there are 200 volunteers who depend on it, it made it that much more important to me."

Smith plans to push to restore RSVP's federal funding, but if that doesn't work, he'll reach out to other local governments to share with Waveland in the costs.

"The funding for the director and some reimbursements for mileage. The city currently pays that, and then it's reimbursed by the RSVP program," Smith said. "That's the money that is going to go away. The federal funding. Once that happens, then collectively the three cities and the county, we're going to try to formulate how to use the volunteers if they care to still volunteer."

"It's not going to stop me, because I'm going to be coming here anyway, one way or the other," Admiral said.

The Hancock County Food Pantry is another organization that depends on RSVP volunteers.

"I'm actually going to try to pursue the federal funding as long as it's available, because these people depend on these programs," said Smith. "In fact, another important one is the food pantry. They depend on volunteer help, because they're not funded. So, they need the volunteer help in order to get the food out to the needy people."

Smith said it's important to be able to continue to reimburse the senior citizens for mileage so it won't cost them anything to volunteer.

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