RSVP honors, thanks volunteers

BIG RAPIDS — Without volunteers, the Retired Senior Volunteer Program wouldn't exist. To thank the people who make the program — and the work done through it every year — possible, a special recognition luncheon took place Thursday.

"It's seniors helping seniors," said Linda Connell, RSVP director. "If people never help each other and only care about themselves, the world would become a crueler, sadder place and we need all the help we can get these days."

While the event program listed dozens and dozens of people who give their time, talent and energy to helping others, three individuals were specially honored as the RSVP Volunteers of the Year.

They are: Ann Yokiel, Mecosta County; Barbara Lytle, Osceola County; and Susan Brown Havens, Lake County.

Lytle was shocked to hear her name called as a Volunteer of the Year honoree.

"I volunteered for many years and then my husband got sick and I stopped for a while," she said. "I started volunteering again after my husband died four and a half years ago."

Lytle volunteers because she believes it's important for people to show they care for others, especially for those who are alone, as she is now.

"It's important to help one another — very important to reach out to one another and support one another," she said, adding she attends and volunteers at Trinity Fellowship Church. "Our Lord wants us to help one another."

Brown Havens has volunteered for five years with RSVP, but has been giving back to the community since she and her husband moved to Lake County in 2012.

"Volunteering means giving back, showing you care to different people," she said. "We all have gifts we're given by God — sometimes it's just listening."

Brown Havens does a lot of volunteering with the Bread of Life Food Pantry in Baldwin.

"It's exceptionally rewarding," she said. "Having someone look you in the eyes or give you a hug and say 'thank you' — knowing you've done something to make somebody else's day a little easier, it gives you warm fuzzies."