Kathy Daley | Democrat
Sullivan County RSVP Senior of the Year is Laura Solomon, who has volunteered as a receptionist in the county's Office for the Aging for the past eight years. A retired teacher's aide in Monticello, Solomon also sits on the RSVP Advisory Committee, helping to guide and define the program. From the left are RSVP Specialist Elaine Finkle, RSVP Director Caryn Matthews, County Legislator Cindy Gieger, Laura Solomon, her son Abbot, and Office for the Aging Director Deborah Allen.
is county's top senior
By Kathy Daley
CALLICOON They drive the sick to doctors' offices. They teach people to read and write, and they lend a hand in county offices understaffed due to budget cuts.
The 300 women and men, aged 55 to 104, who serve in the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) are in many ways the lifeblood of their communities.
"The average RSVP volunteer is so giving," said RSVP Project Director Caryn Mathews. "They have empathy, they want to help and they do it with grace and finesse."
To thank the volunteers, RSVP invites all to an annual luncheon at the Villa Roma in Callicoon. The celebration on Monday witnessed a volunteer from each town in the county receiving special recognition, and one individual Laura Solomon of Monticello selected as Sullivan County RSVP Senior of the Year.
"Keep on working," said Solomon to the roomful of volunteers. "The county needs us."
Solomon's cohorts deliver meals to the homebound and stay in touch with lonely people through the Telephone Reassurance Program. They volunteer in libraries, hospitals, museums and fire departments.
Speakers lauded their work. County Legislator Cindy Kurpil Gieger thanked the seniors "for imparting your knowledge through your many years of experience."
"Your presence and activity in our communities is such a force for good," said Pastor Bob Kersten of the United Methodist Churches of Grahamsville and Sundown.
Noting that today's Sullivan County volunteers follow in the footsteps of forebears, County Historian John Conway spoke of this early sharing of self with others.
One example was the downtown Monticello fire of 1844 that destroyed numerous buildings. A handful of citizens ran to the county government and clerk's offices to try to save them from ruin. Those structures eventually were lost, and the residents guarding them "barely escaped with their lives," Conway said.
Later in local history, an all-volunteer board of directors oversaw the operation of the famed Loomis Sanitarium for poor tuberculosis patients, which operated in Liberty from 1896 to 1942.
"All of us have it within us to do something" no matter how busy life gets, said Conway. "I thank all those in this room."