Ceil Sperzel is on a mission.
In between answering questions from this writer, the quick-moving leader of the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) with Hope Southern Indiana, a part of Americorps Seniors, is overseeing myriad other projects and fielding questions from volunteers and staff as they complete the arrangements of hundreds of flowers to be taken to Hosparus patients.
Ceil’s involvement at RSVP spans 32 years – and she has no plans to stop.
“Well, it’s true I’ve been here for a long time, and I just find it fulfilling,” she explains. “I don’t know, it’s good work. At the end of the day, somebody will call and say, ‘I don’t know what to do about this,’ and it may not actually even be my job – and I may not know an answer – but I have a suggestion, which may or may not work. [So,] I’ll spend 20 to 30 minutes on the phone with someone, and realize that’s why I came here today. … Because I’ve been here so long, every day I guarantee you I have a list. And most of the time the most fulfilling things were not on it. They just happen during the day. So, when someone needs something … my favorite thing to say is ‘Yes, we can.’ I just love that.”
And – oh! – how people love Ceil.
“She has been a blessing to Hope Southern Indiana,” says Angie Graf, Hope’s executive director. “I never have to question Ceil’s desire to assist seniors with meaningful service opportunities. She always has their best interest at heart, [and…] she is never afraid to jump in and help on any project that has a senior component.”
Most days, “Ceil beats the sun to work and ends her days answering emails and getting
things done,” Graf continues. “She is not afraid of work. Ceil handles a large federal grant, and I
never have to worry about her follow up or final reports. They are always shining, and she gets high
remarks. Our [Hope] staff enjoy her personality and kindness toward the least of these. She truly
cares and her light shines through.”
Accolades, though, at least to Ceil, should be reserved for her volunteers – all 698 of them.
“The RSVP program is the path to service for people who might want to volunteer. Most of those are retired, and by the time they find they have time to do it, they’ve maybe done all of their honey-dos and they’ve traveled some, and they babysat for their grandchildren, and now they’re ready to find something else to do that keeps them active,” Ceil says.
RSVP serves Clark, Floyd, Scott, Harrison and Jefferson counties in Southern Indiana, so it’s kind of spread out. “The way we do it is just to learn as much as we can about the potential volunteer needs of various non-profit organizations and healthcare organizations, and then when people express interest in volunteering, we have lots of things to offer them.” The opportunities for volunteers and the recipients are numerous, but at its core, the mission is as simple as what she was taught by her parents when she was a child: “This is what you do: You give back.” And back and back and back – and the rewards
prove to be reciprocal. “It’s a proven fact that volunteering [and] having something useful to do – as opposed to playing golf all day; you can’t play golf all day every day – it makes you feel healthier both
physically and mentally, and it helps you live longer,” Ciel explains.
“There’s a lot of stats on that, [but] if you want a hardcore reason why to do it, it gives you a reason to get up in the morning,” Ceil continues. “If you wake up in the morning and think, ‘It doesn’t really matter if I get out of bed right now, I can lay in this bed until 11 if I want to,’ that’s not really good for you, and it starts, sometimes, a downward spiral. So, I would say to you: Put our phone number by your bed, and
that’s the day you call [RSVP]. And we’ll find you something.”
And just like that the interview ends, and Ceil is off and running, surely on a mission to find more faces to add to the hundreds of others who are already impacting our community through RSVP.
WATCH WITH US
Watch “This Is SoIN” at 7:30 a.m. April 23 on WBKI The CW for a special episode celebrating RSVP volunteers, featuring Ceil Sperzel and our volunteers of the year.
RSVP VOLUNTEERS OF THE YEAR
Congratulations to our volunteers of the year!
Jeanne & Michael Kovatch
Carol & Richard Ralph
Barbara & Frank Rauschenbach
Retired Senior Volunteer Program
If you’re in Floyd, Clark, or Harrison county, contact Leann: (812) 206-1800 or firstname.lastname@example.org
If you’re in Scott or Jefferson county, call Joel: (812) 265-3950 or email@example.com