How many men does it take to put a lace curtain? “Never enough!” according to (left to right) Bob Conway, Dave Barca, Doss Welsh and Peter Kitch. In the end, the men just couldn’t figure it out without the help of the homeowner and the women RSVP volunteers!

For more than a decade REALTORS® and affiliates from SILVAR have assisted seniors and the homebound with household tasks, through SILVAR’s REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP). Washing windows, installing smoke detector batteries, flipping mattresses, light vacuuming, dusting, replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters and trimming bushes can mean a lot of work, especially when agents have to take time from their busy schedules. Yet each year, the RSVP volunteers all say they take away more than what they give from this experience.

“I’ve been pretty lucky so far, so I felt I needed to do something to give back to the community,” Jeffrey Dean explained why he decided to volunteer for RSVP for the first time this year.

Longtime RSVP volunteer and Cupertino/Sunnyvale District’s RSVP chair Sue Bose said, “I believe when people grow old, many are afraid or shy to ask for help, even from their children, who live close by. The small tasks we do for them helps keep them safe and comfortable, and enables them to live a better and longer life.”

The seniors are always grateful for the help they receive from the volunteers.”It’s so very kind of you to help us,” said an 82-year-old Los Altos man and his 83-year-old wife to the team of Beth Tompkins, Joe Velasco, Michael Bleier and Christine Moore. They washed the couple’s outside screens and windows.

“We hate to admit that we’re getting old and can no longer do all this work,” said the husband.

“There’s no way I can do all this work by myself,” exclaimed an 83-year-old Los Gatos resident, as the team of C.T. Harris, Ryan Iwanaga and Wendy Lannon Potts flipped her mattress, placed bricks under her bed in order to elevate it, repaired a set of window blinds, replaced her smoke detector batteries and furnace filter, which was loacted in a dark cellar.

Longtime RSVP volunteers Rick White, Sherry Hagen and Scott Holt helped a 76-year-old woman and her 80-year-old husband by washing screens and windows and trimming bushes. The wife, who was in a wheelchair, recently had a stroke and then fell and broke her hip. They have no children.

“It’s frustrating not being able to do things and we guessed it was time to break down and ask for help,” she said. “My husband tries to do everything and he’s running himself down.”

An elderly Menlo Park homeowner, who is single and lives alone with no family nearby, called the volunteers “my angels.” “You are an answer to my prayers, a gift from heaven. I am so overwhelmed,” she told the team of David Barca, Mandy Safka, Kathy Hearn Bosse and Jim Taggart. They washed her curtains, screens and windows, fixed her front porch and installed new smoke detector batteries in her home. They were later joined by Bob Conway, Doss Welsh and Peter Kitch.

“I wish we could do more for them. I wish we could help even more seniors,” said Barca. “You learn so much through conversations with them, and, you end up getting attached to them, as well.

Barca initiated RSVP with other REALTORS® in 2001. The program was launched by SILVAR as an official community outreach project in 2002, and has expanded to include volunteers from the San Mateo County Association of REALTORS®, the Fresno Association of REALTORS®, Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS® and Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS®. Barca hopes to expand RSVP to all AORs in the state.

SILVAR RSVP Chair Eileen Giorgi thanked this year’s volunteers and chairs for their fine work this year. SILVAR’s 2012 RSVP district chairs include Sue Bose (Cupertino/Sunnyvale), Mary Kay Groth (Los Gatos/Saratoga District), David Kim and Suzanne O’Brien (Los Altos/Mountain View), Jeff Beltramo (Palo Alto District), and Barca (Menlo Park/Atherton).

“We really receive more than we give,” said Giorgi. “Thank you to all our volunteers and chairs who gave up their time this week to give back to the community. We all realize how important this program is to our seniors.”

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