Celebrating 50 Years of RSVP

The original group of Project SERVE volunteers, on Staten Island.

Launched in 1966, CSS’s Project SERVE (Serve and Enrich Retirement by Volunteer Experience) changed the history of volunteerism.

In 1966, twenty-three men and women joined a new CSS project founded on a simple yet revolutionary idea—that the skills and experience of older adults represented an untapped resource in helping to meet critical needs in New York City’s communities.

CSS launched Project SERVE on Staten Island, and by 1969, SERVE was providing assistance across New York State. SERVE continued to grow, becoming CSS’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which Congress supported nationally under the Older Americans Act—and which is now one of the largest volunteer networks in the nation for people aged 55 and over.

Today in New York City, nearly 3,000 trained RSVP volunteers continue this tradition of service: providing assistance to veterans in VA medical facilities; mentoring children of incarcerated parents and at-risk youth; improving the reading skills of adults seeking GEDs; assisting at soup kitchens and food pantries; and much more. Last year, CSS RSVP volunteers provided 400,000 hours of service to the community. Learn more about RSVP volunteer opportunities. As we celebrate this milestone, we thank all the volunteers, past and present, who make our city a better place. Watch the RSVP story below.

RSVP: 5 Decades of Service

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