The Star-Herald

Chicken stew fundraiser to aid Aroostook RSVP

PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — Just in time for the busy holiday season, leaders of Aroostook Retired and Senior Volunteer Program have cooked up an idea to help raise money and awareness for the volunteer-driven organization and ease the burden on family meal preparers who could really use a night off. 

A drive-up chicken stew meal will be sold from 4-6:30 p.m. on Friday, Dec. 10, at the Aroostook Agency on Aging office, located at 260 Main St. in Presque Isle. All proceeds will benefit the longstanding RSVP service, which matches people aged 55 and over with opportunities to serve their communities in a meaningful way. 

Sherry Beaulieu, manager of volunteer services at the agency, said the mission of Aroostook RSVP is vital to northern Maine. 

“Working in step with a network of nonprofits, including the United Way and ACAP, our amazing volunteers serve people in a variety of ways including food security, help with light housework and caring companionship,” she said. 

“Those who purchase a meal will be helping us to help our community. Aroostook RSVP aims to make life better for older adults and those who are disabled by connecting caring people with their neighbors who are in a moment of need,” Beaulieu added. 

The chicken stew fundraiser will also help meet ongoing expenses necessary to recruit, train and support Aroostook RSVP volunteers, many of whom have served consistently at one or more of the community-based partner sites. 

So far this year, Aroostook RSVP members have donated more than 23,000 hours at soup kitchens, food pantries and thrift stores from Benedicta to Allagash. This represents a value of more than $600,000 in donated labor, according to Carleen Elliott, advisory board chairperson. 

“It’s a very rewarding feeling to know that your efforts are making a real difference in the region. Our volunteers are caring people who know that someday they themselves or their own family might need a little help. They are paying it forward,” Elliott said.

Alma Gray of Presque Isle volunteers in several ways through Aroostook RSVP. She said her experience is like many others who give of their time and talent — a special relationship is formed between the volunteer and the person they are helping. 

“I thought I was there to do something for someone else, but I found out the service helped me just as much. It’s people helping people and the bond it creates is a meaningful gift from God. I have been blessed,” Gray said. 

A limited number of chicken stew meals will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis. The ready to-go meal, which includes hot chicken stew, a roll and butter, cupcake and bottle of water, sells for a suggested donation of $8. Several anonymous businesses, Beaulieu said, have paid all up-front expenses for the fundraiser. 

For more information about Aroostook RSVP, including how to become a volunteer, please call the Agency on Aging at 207-764-3396 or 1-800-439-1789.  

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