[heading] By: Winne Love | Photo By: Zeena Gregg Photography [/heading]

They patrol bank and shopping center parking lots.  They check houses whose owners are on vacation.  They monitor school drop-offs and pick-ups.  And they visit seniors who live alone.  These are just a few of the services that Rancho Bernardo’s Retired Service Volunteer Patrol (RSVP) performs each day.
“We are the extra eyes and ears for the SDPD,” said Richard Van Overmeiren, administrator and 19-year veteran of the patrol.  After 33 years with the Chicago Fire Department, Van Overmeiren joined the patrol in 1993, just one year after its inception.  Now at age 79, he has logged more than 15,000 volunteer hours.
The patrol now boasts over 50 members, all of whom are 50 years of age or older, have passed a police background check, completed the week-long RSVP academy, and are committed to attending the monthly training meeting and volunteering a minimum of three days per month.  The RSVP has been so successful that it’s become the model for similar programs across the county, and SDPD now has patrols in all seven divisions.
“Over half of RVSP members are in their eighties,” said Van Overmeiren, and the RSVP keeps them busy.  In addition to the regular patrols conducted six days of the week, RSVP members run the You Are Not Alone (YANA) program – providing daily visits to fellow seniors who live alone – and provide free youth fingerprinting at safety fairs and stranger-danger talks for elementary students.
RSVP volunteers also help local police by working in the SDPD community relations office over the Rancho Bernardo library.  “Duty managers work daily in the storefront Monday through Friday, assisting walk-ins, phone calls, and non-moving auto citation sign-offs,” said Van Overmeiren.  “We also handle the daily managing of the three RSVP patrol cars.”
It takes about $8,000 a year to cover those costs, and RSVP stays solvent through grants, donations, and support from the Rancho Bernardo Foundation. 

Want to offer your support, volunteer, or ask for a home visit?  Simply RSVP to 858-538-8146.