Vi Foraker is retired now.
But she worked for years as a receptionist.
“I enjoy being with people. I enjoy working,” she said.
So the 91-year-old Richland woman spends hours upon hours volunteering for nonprofits from Project Warm-up to Junior Achievement.
She also helps S.H.A.K.E., which stands for Seniors Helping All Kids’ Education.
The group provides school supplies to students in need and also does a holiday toy drive.
S.H.A.K.E. is part of the local Retired & Senior Volunteer Program, or RSVP, which supports and connects retirees and seniors in volunteer roles in the community.
RSVP has a network of about 400 volunteers age 55 and older in Benton and Franklin counties.
Last year, the volunteers — like Foraker — contributed more than 55,000 hours.
“The program helps the community. And it’s a wonderful network for seniors and retirees,” said Patty George, coordinator.
This holiday season, RSVP could use financial donations to support its volunteers. That tops its holiday wish list.
It’s also looking for people to serve as ambassadors for the program.
RSVP has volunteers working in eight local programs, from S.H.A.K.E and Mid-Columbia Meals on Wheels to Tri-Cities Food Bank, Fine Arts Radio Reading, and Kadlec and Trios hospitals.
The volunteers receive orientation, training and supplemental insurance while on duty.
They also get a sense of fulfillment. “It helps folks stay active,” George said.
That’s true for Foraker.
“I’m in excellent health, and this gets me out,” she said of volunteering. “I love it.”
Other local programs also have needs this holiday season. Here’s a look at a couple:
▪ The ARC of Tri-Cities serves people with intellectual and developmental disabilities each year, and it also helps their families.
This holiday season, it could use donations of art supplies for clients, including gallon bottles of tempera paint, construction paper, watercolor sets, art brushes and blunt-nose scissors.
It also needs three new Blue Ray players and a 40- to 50-inch flat screen TV to be used by clients and for workshops for parents and care providers.
The nonprofit also needs some items for grounds maintenance, including a wheelbarrow, exterior window washing equipment, an 8-foot fiberglass A-frame ladder and cleaning supplies. And, finally, it could use new computer monitors that are at least 17 inches wide and new wireless keyboards and accessories.
▪ The Local WSU Extension Master Gardeners is holding a Food Garden Fund Drive through Dec. 31.
The goal is to build 50 new garden beds “to help alleviate food uncertainty in Benton and Franklin counties,” said information from the group.
“Benton and Franklin counties have a higher rate of food-insecure children than the state and national averages, with 23.4 percent of all children in the area living without reliable access to enough affordable and nutritious food, according to federal data,” the group said.
“Originally set for 25 beds and a monetary and in-kind funding goal of $5,000, the goals have been raised to double that amount,” the group said.
Sponsors including the Benton-Franklin Community Health Alliance, The Battelle Foundation, Lamb Weston, Three Rivers Community Foundation, the Benton-Franklin Master Gardener Foundation, WSU Extension already have kicked in contributions.
To donate, call 509-735-3551 or bring a donation to the WSU Cooperative Extension office at 5600-E W. Canal Drive, Kennewick.