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Guest Opinion: RSVP volunteers leap into action after storm

The physical wounds inflicted by the July 12 storm that hit our lakes area are visibly devastating. Gone are the picturesque towering pines, the shade of an old-growth oak and the privacy that accompanied both. And in its place, and often times h...

The physical wounds inflicted by the July 12 storm that hit our lakes area are visibly devastating. Gone are the picturesque towering pines, the shade of an old-growth oak and the privacy that accompanied both. And in its place, and often times hidden from view, are the emotional scars that an event such as this can have on an individual's life.

The trees that I lost in my own yard have all been cut up, stumps have been grubbed out and the new grass seed is already greening up. And while my landscape will never be quite the same, all these physical losses will soon be a distant memory. But what will never be forgotten and will remain in my heart and mind for years to come is the outpouring of support from volunteers who cared enough to drop everything and leap into action to help others.

Initial volunteer reporting shows that for the period of time from July 12-July 21, we had 257 RSVP volunteers dispatched and helping families in need with storm damage clean-up. They helped 147 families with recovery efforts that encompassed a vast array of services, including but not limited to, brush, limb, tree clean-up and removal, safety checks, providing water, food, transportation and equipment such as generators, chain saws, etc.

While the work is ongoing and will require continued efforts on behalf of our RSVP volunteers, we are so thankful for their immediate response to this disaster. Not only did they help with the physical needs, perhaps even more importantly through their volunteer efforts, they were able to instill a sense of hope in the lives of those in need.

"You guys are doing such a wonderful job down there, I really appreciate it," said Judy, a 75-year-old widow with physical limitation who called our office for help after the storm.

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Over the years I have been honored to witness firsthand your commitment and service to the people in our community. Without pay, without cost and seeking only to help make life better for our neighbors, each year as volunteers you contribute thousands of hours, valued at well over $2.4 million dollars, in service to others.

You make this world a better place and for that we are extremely grateful.

RSVP Volunteer Services is an outreach effort of Crow Wing County's Department of Community Services, which administers more than 70 federal and state benefits and assistance services and programs totaling more than $130 million dollars annually. The department is dedicated to providing excellent customer service and efficient management in performing its mission of promoting and protecting the health, well-being and self-sufficiency of all Crow Wing County residents. Visit www.crowwing.us/208/RSVP-Volunteer-Services for more information on how you can get involved

Mike Koecheler is director of RSVP Volunteer Services.

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