Leanne Mersmann is the the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Manager in Jefferson and Park counties at Spark the Change Colorado . They’ve answered some questions below to help librarians around Colorado learn about their organization, agency, and/or services.
Below, you’ll learn about Spark the Change Colorado and their potential to help you serve your community. In addition, at the end of this post we’ve included some of their resources for you to view and/or use.
See below for the recording of our Virtual Partner Forum for Spark the Change Colorado. You may also view it on YouTube.
Tell us who you are and what you do for Spark the Change Colorado.
I am Leanne Mersmann, the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) Manager in Jefferson and Park counties of Colorado. I connect people aged 55 and older with volunteer opportunities in their own counties to fight food insecurity.
Sparks mission. We are the leading statewide organizations that (uses) volunteerism as a strategy to meet community needs.
How can Spark the Change Colorado partner with a library to offer resources or programming to the local community of library visitors and users?
Some suggestions that come to mind include hosting a food drive, offering volunteer opportunities, leading activities in the community such as planting vegetables or making a cookbook. Essentially, we want to know what the library and community needs and how we can help!
What needs or challenges can Spark the Change Colorado’s RSVP Program help libraries address for their communities?
We engage volunteers aged 55 and older to be active in their communities. There are so many wonderful ways that volunteers can tackle food insecurity in their county. Since people will volunteer on a consistent basis, they can feel great knowing that they are fighting hunger while mentally and physically excelling themselves.
What regions – cities, counties, areas – of Colorado does your organization reach?
Spark the Change Colorado reaches the entire state! RSVP has a presence in the following counties: Alamosa, Broomfield, Huerfano, Jefferson, Las Animas, Montezuma, and Park.
Do the services or resources from Spark the Change Colorado cost any money?
No, it does not cost money to be a volunteer with Spark the Change Colorado. In fact, some of our volunteer opportunities allow for stipends and mileage reimbursement. If you know someone who would like to volunteer each week but feels as though they cannot afford to, let us know! They may be a perfect candidate for AmeriCorps Seniors.
Do libraries have to provide any funds or apply to any grants to work with Spark the Change Colorado’s RSVP Program?
Nope! Isn’t that nice? Sometimes we have our partners sign an agreement so that we are both on the same page about what services we are providing for each other. Funds and grants do not have to ever be involved.
Do libraries have to provide any staff, volunteers, or training in order to run your programs or provide resources or services with Spark the Change Colorado?
Minimally. We do not need extra staff- we just need staff to point to bathrooms, say hello, and build relationships with their own community. These are things your staff already do, and after that, you can be as involved as you want.
What support can you offer libraries to help them access additional resources or funding to bring Spark the Change Colorado’s RSVP Program to their library?
We can partner with libraries to apply for grants, as needed. We will engage your community by connecting volunteers to opportunities to spark change, bring more people in the door who are age 55+, and we can help you find volunteers for your library. Since we enlist volunteers in exciting new ways, this will expand visibility of what your library can offer the community. We love to collaborate and find new partnerships for your library.
Let’s say one of our librarians, directors, or staff contact you and says, “We want to bring Spark the Change Colorado’s RSVP Program to our community!” What will the next step look like?
We will virtually meet to identify what you are looking for and solidify your ideas for how we can help meet a community need.
If you are already in one of the RSVP counties mentioned before, we can start as soon as possible. If you are not then we would love to hear why you need RSVP in your community. A great first step is to help us recruit volunteers by telling everyone about Spark the Change Colorado!
You will be attending a Virtual Partner Forum with the Colorado State Library February 21, 2023, Tuesday at 1 PM where you can answer questions directly from Colorado libraries who are able to attend. How else can people reach you?
Visit our website at Spark the Change Colorado or sparkthechangecolorado.org
They can also email our RSVP Director, Juli German at JGerman@SparkTheChangeColorado.org and she can direct you to the staff member in your community.
Not every resource or partner that we highlight will meet the needs or fit in with the mission of every library or community that will read this post. Furthermore, no single interview can include every available opportunity to work with Spark the Change Colorado .
View the recording of the Virtual Partner Forum with Spark the Change Colorado below.
If you were unable to attend our Virtual Partner Forum on February 21, 2023 at 1PM feel free to email me – Cristy Moran, Adult Library Services Senior Consultant at the Colorado State Library – at email@example.com or Leanne directly at the contact information listed in the interview above.
Attachments included in this post are:
- Spark the Change Colorado (website)
- Spark the Change Colorado’s Get Connected Directory (website)
- Spark the Change Membership (website)
- Retired & Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) at Spark the Change Colorado (website)
- RSVP Recruitment Flyer (PDF)
- Spark the Change RSVP for CO Libraries (Presentation slides – PDF)
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