Valentine’s Day is usually centered around romance: cards, hearts, flowers, or fond memories of loved ones. (My kids took a different angle on the romance during high school when they called Valentine’s Day SAD Day — singles awareness day!)

No matter how you do (or don’t) celebrate the holiday, when it comes to Valentine’s, we usually never think of a different kind of love: self-sacrifice and service. I would like to share an example of this type of love through the story of volunteers who continued to give during recent difficult times.

COVID-19 has hit many people hard, including those who were homebound even before stay-at-home orders were issued. These people were being served by Senior Centers that make and deliver meals to them on a daily or weekly basis. When COVID initially started, the Centers continued to make meals and serve; the volunteer drivers continued (with safe practices) to deliver. And then it happened.

One after another, Senior Centers in the White Mountains were hit by COVID-19 and had to completely stop service for two weeks. Who was going to make and deliver those much needed meals with the Centers closed? How do you fix the delivery problem when potential collaborators like restaurants are also shut down and many people are staying home? The answer turned out to be: community volunteers to the rescue!

For example, Show Low Meals on Wheels (MOW) delivered extra meals to the Silver Creek Senior Center for delivery to MOW clients in the Snowflake/Taylor Area when the Center needed help. When the Rim Country Community Center had to shut down for COVID-19, the Silver Creek Senior Center picked up their load and sent meals to Overgaard to be delivered.

The volunteers from the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) continued to serve as well. For example, some RSVP volunteers stepped up to take the place of staff who were out sick. Some drove extra miles to cover other people’s routes. Most of the meals delivered are hot and cooked that day, so volunteers also aided with daily kitchen and cleaning support.

The Center for Service and Volunteerism at NAU, partnering with AmeriCorps Seniors, supports the RSVP program in the White Mountains in its efforts. This partial quote from the CSV mission statement:

“...[a] diverse network of individuals and partner agencies who are making an exceptional impact throughout Arizona supporting direct service...” represents EXACTLY what happened when the Senior Centers could not do business as usual. The RSVP and other volunteers stepped in to fill essential needs. There is an expression that says “many hands make light work,” but I’d add that many hands can keep work going.

Valentine’s Day is to remember those we love and those who love us. The RSVP volunteers that rose to the crisis at hand without asking for anything in return are examples of the very essence of Valentine’s Day.

If during this pandemic, you are wondering how many more Hallmark shows you can watch, consider becoming an RSVP volunteer. RSVP does more than deliver meals; we also have two pilot programs that are in the works. Both can be done safely within your comfort level! The first program, Education Coaches, uses technology to help tutor students.

The second, Driving Support, makes deliveries for Veterans.

Both groups are in need of support during this pandemic and they could use your time. This year, you could be a “sweetheart” and deliver an exceptional impact in your community.

(1) comment

Marc-V-Ridenour

God bless 'em!

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