Every year in May, as part of the REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP), SILVAR REALTORS® and affiliates assist seniors and the homebound with household tasks they can no longer perform on their own. The program, which was started by members in 2001 and launched by SILVAR as an official community outreach project in 2002, has expanded to include volunteers from the San Mateo County Association of REALTORS®, the Fresno Association of REALTORS®, and Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS®.

RSVP is now on its 10th year, and this week – May 16-20, volunteers helped seniors in SILVAR’s five districts with simple chores like washing windows, installing smoke detector batteries, flipping mattresses, light vacuuming, dusting, replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters and trimming bushes. Many seniors expressed their gratitude for the work done by the RSVP volunteers.

Gloria from Los Altos, who is 81 years old and lives alone, was especially thrilled. It was the first time she availed of the free service and she was nearly in tears as a couple of RSVP volunteers proceeded to dust her furniture and vacuum and sweep her floors, while the other volunteers washed her windows and trimmed the bushes outside her home.

“Thank you, thank you,” a 91-year-old Sunnyvale senior resident repeatedly told the RSVP volunteers after they had flipped her mattress and washed her windows.

Peggy, 63, is a Mountain View resident who is homebound and confined to wheelchair. She has poliomyelitis (post polio syndrome) and other complications. After surgery, she learned new living skills at Valley Medical Center and was eager to manage on her own. Her closest relative is a sister who lives out of state. The REALTORS® moved furniture and boxes away from all passageways so she could maneuver her wheelchair around her home and function independently.

“I can’t thank them enough for doing this. This has been my family’s home since 1959. I live alone, but I can’t think of any other place where I would rather live. This is my home,” Peggy exclaimed.

In Los Gatos, 73-year-old Barbara, who is bedridden, was grateful that volunteers cleaned her refrigerator and stove, dusted and vacuumed her floors. “I think it’s wonderful that there are people like you that can help people like us who cannot move around anymore,” she exclaimed.

Palo Alto resident Chris, who is 80, just had hip surgery. So she welcomed the help from the REALTORS® who washed windows, fixed a door knob, picked up the clutter and moved items she didn’t need to her garage. Dave, another Palo Alto resident in his 80s, still talks about how much he appreciated the REALTORS® who went out of their way to install a hand rail in his shower stall a couple of years ago. “I am so grateful to them. I used to do a lot of things, but it’s all too much for me now,” he remarked.

An elderly Saratoga couple in their late 80s lamented that all their kids lived out of state. They manage, but welcomed help washing their windows and flipping their mattress. “It’s a wonderful thing that you do for the community. It’s very necessary for us,” they said.

At the end of the week, SILVAR members felt it was all worthwhile. For many volunteers it’s an eye-opening experience and “humbling.” They’re glad they can help out and make a difference in the lives of the seniors and the homebound in their community.