Each day of Volunteer Week KMAN News will be featuring an article by a Kansas State Communications student who has been working with RSVP of the Flint Hills in “telling the story” of the group’s volunteers.
By K-State Student Lindsy Liggett
Like many Americans, losing a loved one can be painful and difficult to go through. It is hard to pick up the pieces and move on. Charlene Redman had to find her passion after her husband, Bob, passed away. She decided she was not going to sit in her house all day and mope. Instead, she was going to get out and make a difference in her community.
Charlene was born and raised in the Manhattan area community and has lived here her whole life, except for a short stint when she lived in Texas. She worked at K-State’s Hale Library for 30 years and retired in September 2009. A co-worker suggested she go to a yoga class at the Riley Senior Service Center. She began attending regularly and eventually became more involved and brought her 84 year old mother to events like Monday movies and Wednesday garden clubs. It is through these things that she realized a desire to help others and volunteer. Charlene then became a member of RSVP of the Flint Hills; a Volunteer Center geared to individuals 55 and older, and began her volunteering career. Her mother has been a RSVP volunteer for nearly 12 years.
Military life is all that Charlene has known, the late Bob Redman was in the military for 21 years, and so it is fitting that she would still be very involved with Fort Riley. She volunteers through the RSVP Volunteer Center with the USO and No Dough Dinners. These dinners are for when military families are out of money and it is usually a sponsored event so it does not cost anything. She likes helping with this event because it gives her a chance to speak and interact with women/children whose husbands/fathers are on deployment. Charlene is president of the American Legion and is involved in such things as the Veterans Day Parade, memorial services and fundraisers with recreational teams. Charlene also helps with From Our Hearts at the Riley County Senior Service Center, which is a program that makes homemade greeting cards for soldiers overseas to send home to their families. She also periodically helps deliver cookies from the RSVP Cookie Brigade to the USO on Fort Riley.
Ultimately, how much one volunteers for RSVP is up to them. RSVP will either call or email them and tell them about an opportunity. They can either accept or decline. So the amount of involvement and commitment is determined by the volunteer.
Charlene loves working with local organizations in the community, building relationships and creating better environments for those around her. Ultimately though, she volunteers because it keeps her busy. She says that if she were to stay in her house all of the time she would go crazy. Getting out and about makes her realize how much good can still be done. It is important to one’s mental health and can help keep a person from getting depressed. She still attends a support group, but does so now so that she can give back and help others get through a loss. An easy way to volunteer is to do it with a loved one. Charlene and her mother volunteered their time to help put together and send out 46,000 Keynote Mailings from the Area Agency on Aging. This was a way for them to be together but also give back at the same time.