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Retiree loves being part of local RSVP

September 20, 2012
By RENEE PRUSI - Journal Staff Writer ( , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Yvonne Clark is thinking of getting job.

"I need to go back to work to get a day off," the retiree said with a laugh.

At 77, Clark is one busy lady and her words are in jest: She loves being part of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.

Article Photos

Although retired, Yvonne Clark, 77, keeps a busy schedule helping others, especially as part of the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program. Clark stopped by The Mining Journal office Tuesday in the course of a day that saw her checking batteries for local Lifetracker system users and providing transportation to a medical apppointment, this time for her son, but something she does for seniors on a regular basis. (Journal photo by Renee Prusi)

She became involved with the program after she retired from her job with the then Michigan Bell Telephone Company.

"I had been taking care of my mother and needed support," Clark said. "Someone referred me to RSVP and Kathy Herrala got me going on it.

"My first volunteer 'job' with RSVP was with Bell Memorial's Lifeline," she said. "And it's grown from there."

Fact Box

22nd Annual Appreciation Dinner tonight


Journal Staff Writer

MARQUETTE - Nearly 200 Retired and Senior Volunteer Program volunteers, their guests, volunteer location representatives, and community and state leaders are expected to attend the 22nd annual volunteer appreciation dinner tonight at the Holiday Inn of Marquette.

Volunteers who have served the community through RSVP in the past year will be treated to dinner, awards, entertainment and door prizes.

Four volunteers will be presented with the Lifetime President's Volunteer Service Award, given to those who have donated more than 4,000 hours of service to their community. Pins commemorating five, 10, 15 and 20 years of RSVP service will also be handed out to 55 volunteers.

Since October 2011, 284 volunteers have donated 42,127 hours of service throughout Marquette County.

The event begins with a social hour at 4 p.m., dinner at 5 p.m., and awards will be presented beginning at about 5:45. Northern Michigan University's ROTC Color Guard will present and retire the colors to begin and end the evening.

Her RSVP involvement has been through programs like Triad, which is an RSVP program involving local law enforcement; transporters, which offer rides to medical appointments to seniors who need transportation; and Lifetracker, which helps those suffering from dementia.

She's also been on the RSVP board for years.

Other programs which she has become involved with include the American Red Cross and the Marquette Exchange Club.

"Wherever they need help, if I can help, I'm there," Clark said.

Clark was born in Ishpeming but moved to Marquette when she was 1. She's a graduate of Graveraet High School.

In addition to her job with the phone company, Clark owned several businesses through the years. She also has an active family life with five children, six stepchildren, 19 grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

But volunteering brings special to joy to her.

"RSVP was something, at the time I started volunteering, something that I didn't have, I don't know what I would have done," Clark said. "Being part of RSVP has made me feel a viable part of the community, that I was needed. It gave me a real purpose. It is so fulfilling."

For those who haven't yet become involved in RSVP, Clark offers words of encouragement.

"You get so much for yourself when you give back to others," she said. "RSVP has something for everyone. You can work with kids, you can work with young adults, you can work with other seniors. You help yourself by helping others."

The morning she stopped in to be interviewed for this story was a typical one for Clark: She was on the run, heading out after to check on some Lifetracker participants and then bring a family member to a medical appointment in Iron Mountain.

The pace, however, makes Clark smile.

"They say if you need help, ask a busy person," she said. "Seniors have so much to offer to the community. Just because you're retired doesn't mean you can't become involved in things. The purpose of RSVP is to help seniors, but everyone benefits.

"I believe if you keep busy, you stay happy and that means you're less apt to feel sick," Clark said. "It's a good thing all around."

Renee Prusi can be contacted at 906-228-2500, ext. 253.



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