RSVP of Eastern Oregon took a moment to recognize volunteer service during an awards luncheon Friday in Pendleton.

RSVP is the volunteer service arm of the Community Action Program of East Central Oregon. The volunteers - 684 strong - work in Umatilla, Morrow, Gilliam and Wheeler counties.

They perform duties in non-profit organizations, government agencies and educational settings.

"Volunteers are the backbone of our communities. Together we can accomplish so much to help so many," said Cathy Burleson, chairwoman of the RSVP Board of Directors. "It gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment."

Some volunteers give 1-2 hours a weeks, while others serve close to 40 hours.

Scot Jacobson, RSVP director, presented 53 awards to individuals who served at least 250 hours. Additionally, Erma Neilson, of Hermiston, was recognized for providing 1,835 hours of service over the last year.

A press release from RSVP indicated RSVP volunteers gave 43,405 hours - with a value of $241,568.

"Volunteers provide many of the behind-the-scenes support services for organizations," Jacobson said. "Without volunteers, you would not have food banks, many museums or service clubs."

Jacobson said when people don't have money to donate, the next best thing is their time.

RSVP began its service to the community in April, 1974 through a federal grant written by Rep. Bob Jensen, who at the time was with Blue Mountain Community College.

The program is funded through the Corporation for National & Community Service, the United Way of Umatilla and Morrow Counties and also receives some state funding through Seniors and People with Disabilities.

For more information of becoming an RSVP volunteer, go to the office at 721 S.E. Third St., Suite B, Pendleton, or call 278-5669 or (800) 752-1139.

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