Earning recognition

Melody Gault, Butler County RSVP and Foster Grandparent Programs manager, received the National Service Advocate of the Year award for her work with those programs.
The award was presented by Voices for National Service on Feb. 14 at Union Station in Washington, D.C.
Gault was nominated for the award by the Voices for National Service committee.
The award recognized exemplary determination, creativity and results in building support for national service among our nation’s leaders.
“I was pretty shocked at first and very humbled that I was nominated and selected for the award,” Gault said.
Each year, the Friends of National Service Awards is an opportunity for Voices for National Service and the entire national service community to recognize leaders from the public, private, and nonprofit sectors who have contributed to building a culture of citizenship, service and responsibility in America.
The honorees were selected based on recognition and support for national service as a solution to some of the nation’s most pressing challenges. Each award winner has helped to raise public awareness of national service and elevate service as a national priority.
“These honorees are extraordinary leaders from across the country who understand the unique value of national service as an efficient strategy for engaging citizens, preparing young adults for work, solving problems, and strengthening and uniting our nation,” said AnnMaura Connolly, president, Voices for National Service. “Their commitment to national service, and their leadership in advancing it, directly benefits communities large and small. We’re tremendously grateful for their continued efforts to help expand service opportunities in America.”
Gault said she is in charge of two programs: RSVP and the Foster Grandparent Program within Senior Corps.
“Most of the education and advocating I do is on behalf of Senior Corps,” she said, “which includes Senior Corps, Foster Grandparent and RSVP.”
Gault said she was in D.C. for the national board meetings because she is on the National Association of RSVP as their  vice president.
“We were there for our spring meetings and we also have visits on the Hill,” she said. “Then the National Service Awards was Tuesday, the 14th.”
She said their volunteers make a great impact in their communities.
“Our RSVP volunteers are involved in working with non-profit organizations in the community,” she explained.
The RSVP volunteers had 632 clients in the area of food distribution last year, including things like Meals on Wheels, Freezer Meals and Shopping for Seniors.
“Had those 632 clients needed to have in-home services to prepare a meal for them, that would have cost $82,948. Had those 632 clients had to go into a nursing home because of food insecurity and not being able to do that themselves, it would have cost $39,446,280 based on the average semi-private room.”
Then Foster Grandparents had 48 volunteers serving 42,012 last year.
“Had the school system had to hire a para to do the tutoring our volunteers are doing it would have cost $460,452; that is with the average cost in the Wichita area of a para at the average rate of $10.96 an hour.
“To think that our volunteers are doing that and saving that much in, potentially, taxpayer dollars.”
She said that is why it is important they go to D.C. and talk with senators and members of congress to tell them what volunteers through these programs are doing back in Kansas.
“These programs are very beneficial,” she said.
It was her dedication to these programs that earned her the National Service Advocate of the Year award.