The smile on Charlotte Fleenor’s face lit up the room when she began talking about the volunteers behind the RSVP (Retired and Senior Volunteer Program)

For more than two decades, volunteers have spent countless hours making grocery trips for area seniors as part of the Bristol-based non-profit’s grocery shopping program. Fleeonor has been part of the program for about four years.

“I’ve been truly blessed by this incredible service,” Fleenor said. “The volunteers fulfill my grocery order, deliver it, and put everything away.”

Fleenor, who is mobile, lives by herself. After her husband’s passing, she reached out for a helping hand. It was the kind words of a neighbor in her building, which Fleenor found out about the grocery program.

“I learned of the program through word of mouth, thanks to my neighbor down the hall from me,” she said.

On average the RSVP senior program fulfills anywhere between fifteen and twenty orders on a weekly basis.

Program coordinator Julie Drake says the program makes an impact on seniors across the Tri-Cities.

“A lot of people don’t know what services are out there,” she said. “As an employee, it’s more than a job. It’s being able to help folks like Charlotte.”

It also allows Drake to become close to the clients as well.

“Seeing them on weekly basis really allows me and the volunteers to form bonds with the residents,” she said. “We are there at Food City on Euclid Ave., every Thursday morning and are humble that we’re able to give back to not only the residents, but the community as well.”

The Retired Senior Volunteer Program is one of nearly thirty non-profit agencies across the Tri-Cities region who receives funding and support from the United Way of Bristol.

The local chapter is currently in the middle of its annual fundraising campaign drive, which lasts until Nov. 15, in an effort to raise $1.4 million to support agencies like the RSVP program.

Even though Fleenor has been through a lot, including several bouts with health problems, she doesn’t let that stop her.

“While I’m still able to get around, with the use of a walker and wheelchair, I’m not able to do what I used to do,” she said. “Seeing the volunteers of the program on a weekly basis is like having a large extended family and I’m grateful for what they do for me.”

Reprinted with permission by:, (276) 645-2574

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