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RSVP+ Southern Valley: Giving Back to the Community


RSVP+ North Dakota is in the business of helping people. Originally known as RSVP North Dakota, the organization served individuals over 55, providing them with volunteer opportunities in the community. But two years ago, RSVP added the plus sign and began enrolling people of all ages for volunteer opportunities as well as adding more programs and services.

“We meet more community need,” says Teresa Huff, Coordinator for RSVP+ Southern Valley, the branch of the organization that covers Cass and Clay Counties as well as nine surrounding counties. “Adding the plus has made us more diversified. It’s been really great for us.”

Today, RSVP+’s mission is to invite individuals of all ages to enhance personal growth, develop leadership skills and meet critical community needs through meaningful volunteer service opportunities. Huff is sure to note that individuals looking to work with RSVP+ need to be “ANY” age.

“We have volunteers from two years old all the way to 97,” she says. “We believe that the sooner a child starts giving back to the community, the more it becomes a normal practice and they’ll want to continue to give back.”

RSVP+ supplies volunteers to a variety of nonprofits and government agencies, or “stations.” In the Fargo Moorhead area, RSVP+ Southern Valley has 353 stations for volunteers to choose from. According to Huff, these volunteer opportunities range from regularly scheduled volunteer opportunities all the way to SWAT team volunteers that assist organizations with special events.

“We can supply volunteers for anything our stations are in need of,” Huff says. “We really work as a conduit between the individual and the organization.”

RSVP+ Southern Valley provides orientation and training for each of their volunteers before they are dispatched to a station. “We like to meet our volunteers one-on-one,” says Huff. “This way we get to know them and we can match their interests to one our stations.”

When individuals volunteer with RSVP+, their hours are tracked. According to Huff, this provides a great benefit to the stations as well as the volunteers. Another benefit of RSVP+ is insurance. RSVP+ insures all its volunteers throughout the course of their volunteer time. The insurance includes accident medical insurance, volunteer liability insurance and excess automobile liability insurance.

“The greatest thing we can offer our volunteers is insurance,” says Huff.

RSVP+ North Dakota has over 5,000 volunteers serving stations around the state of North Dakota and Clay County, Minn. Six of the RSVP+ chapter, including RSVP+ Southern Valley, are sponsored by North Dakota State University.

As for plans for the future, Huff says the organization is open. “We’re always working on ways to expand and make our programs and services better. If something comes along and it fits what we do, we’ll grab it.”

Yet at the heart of it all is giving back. “Volunteering instills a sense of purpose,” says Huff. “It’s really about giving back to the community.”

Learn more about the programs and services provided by RSVP+ North Dakota on their Web site.

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