RSVP packs food boxes for needy

News Photo by Julie Riddle Volunteers fill boxes with nonperishable food staples at a packing event sponsored by Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency in Ossineke Thursday.

OSSINEKE–Volunteering doesn’t have an age limit.

Older adults worked Thursday morning to offer a helping hand to other northern Mighican residents in need of extra food on their pantry shelves. Members of the Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, an arm of the Northeast Michigan Community Service Agency, packed 1,100 boxes with juice, canned goods, and other non-perishables at the NEMCSA warehouse in Ossineke.

The boxes will be distributed to area residents through one of the agency’s several food distribution programs.

RSVP, brought to the Alpena region in 2017, connects adults 55 and older with nonprofits and government agencies who are in need of volunteer help.

“A lot of these people may be living day to day or meal to meal, maybe, I don’t know,” volunteer Rich Prittie, of Ossineke, said as he loaded juice bottles into boxes on Thursday.

Helping those in need motivates him to give up his time to help make life a little easier for someone else.

Prittie, 69, has volunteered with NEMCSA for years, doing odd jobs, as needed. He recently signed up to help as part of the RSVP program as well.

RSVP volunteers are connected to senior centers, animal sanctuaries, school programs, thrift stores, and other agencies. Program leaders make sure that the skills and interests of a volunteer line up with the volunteer work to which they are assigned, RSVP service coordinator Persis Sopariwala said.

As the community was getting to know the program, NEMCSA reached out to organizations to seek out volunteer opportunities.

“Now, we’re getting a lot of reach-out from local organizations saying, ‘Hey, we need volunteers, and we heard that you’ve been able to help people in the area … Can you help us?'” Sopariwala said.

Senior services and opportunities are pertinent in the northeast corner of Michigan, where counties are well above the state average of residents aged 65 or older. Alcona county leads the state, with nearly 36% of its residents in the high-age bracket, with Montmorency and Presque Isle counties close behind, according to countyhealthrankings.com.

Older adults don’t have to sit and do nothing, Prittie said, taking a break from his work at the NEMCSA warehouse. He has friends who, once retired, choose to not stay involved in their community.

“I don’t think they realize that there are a lot of other jobs that they could do,” Prittie said.