Don Edwards has been a volunteer with the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) since April 2002. RSVP is a part of SeniorCorps under the Corporation of National & Community Service. The mission of RSVP is to identify community needs and address these by recruiting and placing senior volunteers in over 200 nonprofit and service agencies throughout southern Nevada.
As an RSVP volunteer, Don donates his time to the Telephone Reassurance Program (TR), a free service offered to seniors, 60 years and older, who either may live alone or do not have someone to look after them on a daily basis. For elderly people living alone,an accident or medical emergency can be life threatening. As a TR caller, Don provides a daily check-up call to seniors enrolled in the program. These calls provide the much-needed assurance that there is someone there who cares for the client’s well being.
For many of these seniors, this call is the only social contact they receive for the day. These daily check-up calls assist the seniors with maintaining the goal of independence. When a client is not reached, Don is able to contact the program coordinator who in turn will initiate emergency procedures. In a recent client satisfaction survey, one of Don’s clients stated, “I can always depend on Don to call me on time everyday, he listens to everything I have to say and even lets me talk about my dog and my life.”
For the past three years, Don has served as a volunteer caller providing nearly 120 calls a month, for an average of 30 hours per month, to his seven clients. Don is the only caller out of 55 callers that has more than four clients. What makes Don even more special to the Telephone Reassurance Program is that he is able to relate to the personal agonies and triumphs that many homebound seniors face each day. As a young man, Don was always very active. When speaking to him on the phone, he likes to reminisce about his earlier days, stating that as a boy he was always helping the handicapped children that were in his neighborhood. As Don grew older he never dreamt that he would find himself one day in a situation where he would come to rely on someone.
At 41 years young, Don was stricken with MS and has since been bed ridden. He was forced to retire as an Iron Worker in Chicago and move to Las Vegas in 1998. After years of feeling helpless for himself, Don finally realized that he did not like the way his life was going and decided to do something about it. Don learned about the Telephone Reassurance Program in 2002 and was thrilled to hear that he still could be useful while staying in bed. Don has said that it is a wonderful feeling knowing he is not only helping others, but also himself, in this wonderful program.