In 1973, an announcement was made by Herman T. Culpepper, Director of the sponsoring Wiregrass Mental Health Center that a five year grant was awarded to the Center for initiation of the RSVP program by ACTION, the Citizens Service Corp, now known as the Corporation for National Senior Service. At that time, 13% of the county's residents were 60 years of age. RSVP was developed to assist in bridging the gap and begin treating senior duties as a resource to provide opportunity for them to become involved for the betterment of their lives and the communities they served.
In 1978, RSVP had to find both a new sponsor and a different location to house its staff and services. The Zonta Club of the Wiregrass Area, Inc. became the new sponsor of RSVP and office space at 501 North Foster Street in Dothan, Alabama was donated by the Houston County Commission. Zonta Club continues to remain the program sponsor.
During these five years, RSVP became one of the fastest growing programs in the state. One hundred volunteers were recruited each of the five years. An aggressive recruiting program was maintained to assure growth and to replace volunteer attrition because of aging. Working with the Zonta Board of Directors, RSVP identified several programs designed to educate senior citizens on issues important to them. Among these was a successful program of education seniors to the dangers of substance abuse and misuse. In addition, seniors were used to help educate children to the dangers of substance abuse. 269 children attended the substance abuse prevention conference designed for them.
With Zonta's assistance, RSVP expanded its services into Henry County in 1991. Henry County has a high concentration of elderly citizens and few programs in place to address their needs. A grant was approved by the Corporation for National Senior Service and RSVP became the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Houston and Henry Counties. Offices were opened in Headland and Abbeville. Vans were based in Headland and Abbeville to provide transportation and coordinators were placed to run the vans and provide office assistance in both locations. An additional van, one with handicapped equipment, was purchased and located in Houston County. Henry County allocated funds to match federal dollars received for the program. In 1993, recognition luncheons were held in both Henry and Houston counties with over 500 attending; 400 in Houston and 100 in Henry County. During this period, RSVP grew rapidly. Service hours reached all time highs and the number of volunteers serving each month grew from 300 to over 600! In the year 2000, Zoonta RSVP had the opportunity to expand into the Geneva County area with use of existing Federal funds. Geneva County had been sponsored by the Geneva County Commission.
Due to changing trends, seniors now may become a member of RSVP at the age of 55 rather than at age 60. The Houston, Henry, and Geneva County Retired and Senior Volunteer Program became the Wiregrass RSVP in August 2002, and still remains a strong vital part of the Wiregrass area.