Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)
Volunteering is an amazing experience.
Arrowhead RSVP can help you make it truly rewarding by connecting you with an opportunity that will fit your schedule and make the best use of the many talents you have to share.
It is our mission to engage individuals in volunteer service that will not only meet critical needs in your community, but will provide you with a high quality experience that will enrich your life.
Enagages persons 55 and better in volunteer service to meet critical community needs and to provide a high-quality experience to enrich their lives.
Anyone who has a desire to serve the community as a volunteer is eligible to register with Arrowhead RSVP or Northland Volunteer Center. There are no restrictions based on education, income, or experience.
Our volunteers serve Cook, Lake and St. Louis Counties, including the City of Duluth, through nonprofit organizations and health care facilities; including schools, libraries, hospitals, tourist attractions, nursing homes, animal shelters, food shelves, and a wide variety of other community programs.
Volunteer opportunities involve helping children to read, delivering Meals on Wheels, preserving the natural environment, providing tourist information, friendly visiting and more. Our volunteers provide the equivalent of 4.9 million dollars in volunteer service annually.
Service hours are scheduled to meet the individual wishes and interests of the volunteer as well as the volunteer location. Each volunteer is asked to give 48 or more service hours during the year.
RSVP Volunteers are Provided:
- Personal assistance in finding an opportunity that is interesting and rewarding
- A chance to share life experiences to help others
- Satisfaction in knowing one is helping to meet critical community needs
- The opportunity to meet new people and face new challenges
- Excess accident and liability insurance while volunteering
- Help with travel expenses if needed (for RSVP volunteers only)
- Recognition for service
Char Kerelko, 84, registered with Arrowhead RSVP in 2001 when she became the Director for Kids Closet in Duluth, Minnesota.
For 40 years, Kids Closet has been a place low-income families who have young children could turn to for help in clothing their children for the school year and harsh winter weather. Kids Closet provides children with some guaranteed items: a new pair of shoes, boots, hats and mittens, as well as an outfit, jacket, and snow pants. If available, each child can also choose a limited number of used clothing items and a book. Funding comes from local foundations, churches, fraternal organizations, and private donations. The program enjoys widespread support from the community because it has a proven track record of supporting financially needy families with young children.
Kids Closet is located in Spirit of God Lutheran Church and provides a welcoming environment which is painted in bright colors and normally bustles with smiling, dedicated volunteers. The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the volunteers provide services, as they follow strict COVID protocols, but has not had a negative impact on the quality or quantity of services.
For her dedication to service and many hours of volunteering, Char Kerelko received the Presidential Call to Service Award in 2014. Char’s passion for her work with Kids Closet and devotion to those they serve is contagious and all volunteers at the Kids Closet share her enthusiasm for the good work they do.
Ron Meyer, 88, has been an Arrowhead RSVP volunteer for 23 years volunteering in Duluth with the AARP Tax Aide Program.
The AARP Tax Aide program is one of the nation’s largest free, volunteer-run tax preparation and assistance services. Volunteers receive free training and help others receive their maximum tax refund. In addition to the service they provide to individuals, Tax Aide volunteers throughout the country also contribute to regional economic growth by bringing millions of dollars back to local economies. On average, the Duluth AARP Tax Aide volunteers electronically file over 1,300 Federal returns and over 2,000 State returns with Federal tax refunds on average totaling over one million dollars each year! In addition to his work locally, Ron has held several leadership positions regionally and state-wide with the Tax Aide Program.
Besides the reward of knowing they provide a much-needed service, the Tax Aide volunteers also enjoy the social benefits of being part of a fun team. The team Ron leads meets weekly for breakfast to plan, share information and just visit.
For his many years of service to the organization and the community, Ron was recognized as the 2008 Outstanding Senior Volunteer Male for St. Louis County. Ron says he feels good about helping those who cannot prepare their own taxes receive much needed maximum tax refunds. “That’s what it’s all about, helping others.”
Eleanor Waha, 97, of Grand Marais, Minnesota has been an Arrowhead RSVP volunteer for 27 years!
Eleanor has volunteered in a variety of organizations throughout her long volunteer career with RSVP. She has served with America Reads Cook County, America Reads Lake County, Friends of RSVP/Special Projects, the Cook County Historical Museum (over 50 years), Johnson Historical Post, North Shore Care Center, Soil and Water Conservation and the Bethlehem Lutheran Church Quilters. Eleanor embodies the true spirit of volunteerism, always thinking of others. She remembers special dates like no one else and continues to send out birthday, anniversary, and sympathy cards to many Cook County residents and beyond.
In addition to these RSVP stations, Eleanor has been active in 4-H, organizing the Cook County Fair for 45 years every August, and is especially proud of her work with the Cancer Detection Clinic. Started in 1962, the clinic was held every Friday in April where they would conduct outreach to area women, one year serving 590. She is especially proud of this work because of the lives saved as a result. In addition, Eleanor was the treasurer for the Maple Hill Fire Department for over 40 years; counted ballots for Arrowhead Electric; and helped with pre-school vision testing for many years.
At 97, Eleanor continues to volunteer with The Quilters, a group of women who gather every Thursday at Bethlehem Lutheran Church to make quilts for church members, community members in need, Red Cross, Damiano Center in Duluth, and Lutheran World Relief. During the COVID-19 pandemic when safety protocol required the group not gather, Eleanor continued making quilts at home as the church office manager or other quilters would drop off supplies for her to work on and pick up the finished product. A go-getter, Eleanor is not someone to let a pandemic or age get in the way of her volunteering!
Asked what she misses most during this pandemic, Eleanor said she really misses her visits at the Care Center (local nursing home). She served birthday cake monthly at the Care Center for 40-plus years. She delivered newspapers and church bulletins along with little visits to the folks living at the Care Center every week. She is looking forward to a day when she can return to these things.
For her many years of services, Eleanor received the RSVP Lifetime Achievement Award. When reflecting on her long life and all the many ways she has contributed to her community through volunteerism, Eleanor said, “Life has never been boring!”
Mary Lou Roskoski
Mary Lou Roskoski is a 93-year-old who has been an RSVP volunteer for many years.
There are records of Mary Lou’s RSVP volunteering “career” dating back to 1989 – that is 32 years of giving to others. With well over 8,717 lifetime volunteer hours (that we know of) she is a very dedicated volunteer who believes in the value of community and understands the important role volunteering plays in having a strong resilient community. In 2009 the Northland Volunteer Center presented her with a Hall of Fame award. She was described by the nominating organization as “an angel who is somehow hiding her halo and wings”. Mary Lou has volunteered at all of the sites listed below over her 32 years of service:
6th Judicial District Court
Arrowhead Economic Opportunity Agency
Beyond School Walls
Coordinator on Aging-AEOA
Friends of RSVP/Special Projects
Head Start- Arrowhead
Intergenerational Pen Pal Project
Lutheran Social Services Family Resource Center
Minnesota Discovery Center
Northern Lights Association
Virginia Senior Center
Aurora Senior Dining
St Louis County Court Administrator
Arrowhead RSVP Coordinator Duluth, Lake, and Cook Counties
Arrowhead RSVP & Food Access Manager
Arrowhead RSVP Program Support
Arrowhead RSVP Coordinator, North St. Louis County
Groceries to Go Coordinator