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The REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP), the community outreach project through which SILVAR members help seniors with household tasks they can no longer do on their own, took place this week. This year SILVAR partnered with the Avenidas Village (Palo Alto Senior Center) and offered the free service to senior homeowners who are members of the Avenidas Village Program.

On Wednesday and Thursday, more than 28 volunteers from SILVAR helped 18 senior households in Palo Alto. Some tasks RSVP volunteers performed for seniors included replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters, washing windows, turning over mattresses, changing smoke detector batteries, yard work and some light housekeeping chores.

Seniors welcome the help each year. This year marks the 17th year of SILVAR’s RSVP program, yet not all seniors know about it. Joe, who is 83, and his wife Judy, 75, only learned about RSVP this year through Avenidas Village.

“When I heard about the program, I kind of wondered about it. I asked Judy if we should ask for help and she said, ‘Why not, we could certainly use the help!'” said Joe.

The couple, whose only child lives in Chicago, needed help moving furniture and clearing things in their home. On Thursday, the team of Dave Barca, Jeff Beltramo, Pamela Ghandour and Tom Huff got to work right away. Barca and Ghandour packed books, games and other items on the couple’s bookcase in boxes and helped move furniture, while Beltramo and Huff cleaned the couple’s gutters and yard.

Many seniors are very grateful for the help. One 89-year-old senior exclaimed, “This is like a fairytale where the elves come and help!”

“My windows are cleaner than ever before!” said another happy homeowner.




In Los Altos, Kathryn Tomaino and Steve Klesczewski washed windows for a 74-year-old Los Altos homeowner.


The Palo Alto senior cheerfully greeted the RSVP (REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program) volunteers when they arrived at her home. She was eager and grateful to receive their help. Looking at her you wouldn’t know that she needed help, but the 81-year-old widow has undergone a liver transplant, a mastectomy, a hip replacement and now has a bad back. The Palo Alto senior homeowner was grateful the RSVP volunteers were able to vacuum her house, wash her windows and change a light bulb. She said her husband died five years ago and she has no family. She is friends with her neighbor, but the neighbor is 92 years old.

“The neighborhood has changed,” she sighed. “I feel so helpless. I guess I should move, but it’s hard because this is home. I’ve lived here for 50 years.”

A 98-year-old Saratoga senior feels the same way. Also a widow with no family, she was very happy that the RSVP volunteers were able to her change her light bulbs, turn over her mattress and replace her smoke detector battery.

“It’s wonderful you can do this for me. I just can’t do some of these tasks anymore,” she remarked.

In Los Altos, a 74-year-old senior homeowner conveyed her gratitude as RSVP volunteers proceeded to wash her outside windows. “I love this! Thank you. It is so wonderful to have this help,” she said.

RSVP volunteers also feel rewarded when they are able to help seniors in their communities. “We volunteer because we respect the needs of our parents. We want to pay it forward and do it for them,” said longtime RSVP volunteers Kevin Barrett and SILVAR President Denise Welsh.

The program has inspired new members to volunteer, as well. First-time RSVP volunteers Anna-Liza Estoesta and Sara Hernandez were eager to help. “We want to help the community,” they said.

Virginia Supnet said, “I would like to promote the event to my office to inspire other agents.”

This was Trevor Loveless’ third year as a Palo Alto District RSVP volunteer. He enjoys helping the seniors. “It’s good for the community. I was born and raised here. It’s good to give back,” said Loveless.

SILVAR’s REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP) is on its 16th year. This year 107 volunteers from SILVAR assisted 50 senior households in the Menlo Park/Atherton, Palo Alto, Los Altos/Mountain View, Cupertino/Sunnyvale and Los Gatos/Saratoga communities. VIEW PHOTOS


Seniors and the homebound residing on the Peninsula and in the South Bay may request free assistance with household tasks through the REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP) during the week of May 2-6. RSVP is offered each year in the month of May by REALTOR® and affiliate members from the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® (SILVAR) and neighboring REALTOR® associations to qualified seniors who cannot perform certain household tasks due to physical or financial constraints. The deadline for seniors to apply for this free assistance is April 8.

“RSVP is our way of thanking our seniors for all they have done for our communities,” said Eileen Giorgi, SILVAR’s RSVP Committee chair. “Through the RSVP program, REALTORS® and affiliates can make the difference between a senior remaining independent as a homeowner or renter, or having to give up that independence to some form of caregiving and dependence on strangers,”

During RSVP Week teams of REALTORS® and affiliates (professionals who provide industry-related services) will visit senior households and perform various cleaning and maintenance tasks free of charge. Seniors can request to have light bulbs replaced, furnace filters changed, windows cleaned, mattresses turned, new smoke detector batteries installed, and other light housekeeping tasks.

The annual community service program was started by members of SILVAR in 2001, and adopted as an official association community outreach project the following year. The program has since expanded to neighboring REALTOR® associations. Last year 130 volunteers from SILVAR assisted 97 senior households in the Menlo Park/Atherton, Palo Alto, Los Altos/Mountain View, Cupertino/Sunnyvale and Los Gatos/Saratoga communities.

Seniors residing in the communities of Atherton, Menlo Park, East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, Woodside, Portola Valley, Los Altos, Los Altos Hills, Mountain View, Cupertino, Sunnyvale, Santa Clara, Campbell, Saratoga, Monte Sereno and Los Gatos may apply for this free service by contacting the Silicon Valley Association of REALTORS® at (408) 200-0100 for information and an application. Seniors may also visit to download an application and submit to SILVAR before the April 8 deadline.



Suzanne Barnett (left), host of "The Better Part" gets ready to interview RSVP co-founder David Barca and RSVP Chair Eileen Giorgi. Watch the feature on RSVP on cablecast and on the Internet next week.

Suzanne Barnett (left), host of “The Better Part” gets ready to interview RSVP co-founder David Barca and RSVP Chair Eileen Giorgi. Watch the feature on RSVP on cablecast and on the Internet next week.

SILVAR’s REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program (RSVP) will be featured on public television and on the Internet next week, with interviews with RSVP co-founder David Barca, RSVP chair Eileen Giorgi, RSVP District Chairs, volunteers and senior homeowners from local communities.

The program about Silicon Valley REALTORS® helping seniors and the homebound with household tasks will telecast September 1 – 7 throughout Silicon Valley on “The Better Part,” a public access television program produced by seniors from the Cupertino Senior Center. In the show, both Barca and Giorgi are interviewed by host Suzanne Barnett.

Each year during a designated week in May, teams of REALTOR® and affiliate volunteers provide senior citizens who are physically or financially challenged free assistance with household tasks they can no longer perform on their own. Such tasks include replacing light bulbs, changing furnace filters, cleaning windows, flipping mattresses, or installing new smoke detector batteries.

“For homeowners or renters who are advanced in years and are physically and financially challenged, some household tasks can pose a major challenge,” said Barca.

Barca, together with members of SILVAR’s Palo Alto and Menlo Park/Atherton districts, started the program in 2001. RSVP was adopted as an official association community outreach project the following year, with REALTORS® and affiliates helping seniors living in SILVAR’s five districts. RSVP has since spread throughout the Peninsula and South Bay, involving members of SILVAR, the San Mateo County Association of REALTORS®, Santa Clara County Association of REALTORS®, and Santa Cruz County Association of REALTORS®. Since its inception, RSVP has served over 4,000 seniors. This year 447 RSVP volunteers from these associations helped 297 senior households in their communities; 241 volunteers from SILVAR assisted 118 seniors.

“As REALTORS®, we sell the benefits and aspirations of our communities,” said Giorgi. “We are also neighbors and know about local needs. We share the desire for our communities to be great places to live and are committed to give back to those who have built our communities. This program enables us to help seniors and the homebound enjoy their homes in the community for a longer time.”

Producing the show was an eye-opening experience for Diane Sparks, executive producer of “The Better Part.” “When I learned of the program, I thought it was worthwhile to show our communities that REALTORS® don’t just sell houses; they also do a lot of good work for our communities,” said Sparks. “Filming the volunteers helping the seniors and witnessing the appreciation among the seniors, showed me what a difference the program has made in their lives.”

See the schedule for days, times, cities and channels where the REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program will be televised. The program can also be accessed on YouTube under the topic “Cupertino City Productions” or go to REALTOR® Service Volunteer Program.

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.”


March 2023


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