GOOD EXAMPLES: Caire leads community volunteers

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 25, 2002


LULING – As the director of Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of the River Parishes (RSVP), Fay Caire is about as visible a figure as there is in the community. Ask her any questions about herself, however, and she will use that visibility to illuminate the hundreds of volunteers and thousands of people she comes into contact with everyday.

“It feels like you’re working for a family,” Caire said. “A private company is more structured. You go in and leave at the same time each day, you do your job and that’s the end. They thank you for your work, but it’s nothing like this because we’re so close to these people.”

Caire worked for a number of companies in the private sector before becoming the Director of the Job Training Partnership Act (JPTA) in 1986. But with her children, Rebecca and Matt, still growing up she wanted to do that did not require as much traveling. So she “switched acronyms,” as she puts it, to RSVP.

Caire described RSVP’s work as being similar to an employment agency, “but with a bigger reward because the volunteers are helping people.” The organization matches the skills of adults age 55 and over with the needs of the community “stations.” A retired school teacher might provide home tutoring to children with special needs, or professional nurses might donate time at hospitals or senior centers. In 2001, they had 818 volunteers working at 64 different stations.

RSVP offers supplemental insurance to their volunteers while on the job. There is even a small mileage allowance, which Caire says most volunteers don’t even bother collecting. Since Caire arrived in 1994, RSVP has provided over one million hours of volunteer service in the river parishes.

“Volunteering gives you a different feeling, these people are committed to their parishes,” said Caire. “They have something inside, something they want to give back,”

As a lifelong resident of the region, Caire has always known that feeling. Her family moved from Norco to Luling when she was five years old. She volunteered her time with churches and booster clubs, and organized other activities as president of her student council. She returned home after receiving a degree in Office Administration from Nicholls State University and picked up right where she left off, involving her children and Tommy, her husband of 26 years.

“All of our husbands help, they just know its part of it” Caire said, acknowledging the tremendous effort of her colleagues, Virginia Albert, Sandra Hawking, and Inez Blank.

RSVP is currently preparing for the Senior Olympic events held in the parishes during April and May. The organization will also be celebrating its 25th anniversary in July with a party, for which Caire anticipates a large turnout.

“No matter where you go, somebody knows you,” Caire said with a smile. “I’m proud to say I come to work and love it.”

Editor’s Note: Each Saturday, L’Observateur will feature an article about a special River Parishes’ resident and the good works associated with the person.

If you would like to nominate someone contact Robert Roan at 985-652-9545 or send an e-mail to