Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP) – Minneapolis

We have had numerous people from Minnesota in the online SAIL Program Leader training in the last few years, and three of our Certified Trainers for SAIL Program Leaders live in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.  It was definitely time for us to make a site visit to Minnesota and see what was happening.  We contacted our friends from RSVP (the Retired and Senior Volunteer Program) in Minneapolis.  RSVP is a Senior Corps program from the Corporation of National and Community Service that engages adults 55+ to meet community needs.

SAIL Program Leader Mary Turgeon (in blue)
with Kylie Weller, Sarah Tarleton, and Paula Woischke

Kylie Weller is an RSVP Program Coordinator for Volunteers of America – Minnesota.  She completed the online SAIL Program Leader training in 2018, and then went on to earn her Certified Trainer status in April 2019.  Kylie is located in Minneapolis, and oversees volunteer leaders for 30 SAIL Programs in the area.  Kylie conducts their initial one-day SAIL Program Leader training and then continues to support them by visiting their fitness classes regularly, and organizing periodic meetings for ongoing training and recognition events.

Sarah Tarleton shared with us that “everyone owns the class”.  Sarah also works for Volunteers of America – Minnesota as an RSVP Program Director.  The SAIL Program doesn’t belong to just RSVP, or the SAIL Program Leader; everyone is invested in the fitness class.  Older adult volunteers assist with setting up the room prior to the start time.  They assist with counting reps and timing stretches to ensure that the fidelity of the program is met.  Others volunteer help put equipment away after class.  Substitute leaders are available in case the primary SAIL Program Leader is unable to conduct the class. 

Paula Woischke is a Program Developer for the Juniper Network (a collaboration of the Minnesota Area Agencies on Aging), and another one of our Certified Trainers in Minnesota.  Paula shared how the partnerships within Juniper have successfully brought the SAIL Program to rural Minnesotans as well as a Somali population.

It was clear that it was partnerships that have led to the success of the SAIL Program in Minnesota.  In addition, the organizations are focusing on long term sustainability through their work to build a network of Certified Trainers whose primary role is to establish and support SAIL Programs in Minnesota.

As always, our greatest pleasure of the day was meeting a SAIL Program Leader, and observing how they serve the older adults.  We had the opportunity to watch Mary Turgeon lead a fitness class, and all we can say is, WOW.  Mary, your fitness class was spot-on, and adhered to the mandatory criteria for maintaining the fidelity of the SAIL Program.  Thank you.

Click below to observe a segment of the aerobics section of Mary’s SAIL fitness class, and note that the class can be completed in a standing or seated position:

Balance Exercises
Balance Exercises
Strength Exercises
Strength Exercises

Thanks also to the older adults who invited us to watch their SAIL Program in action.  We’d like to close this story with a quote from Sue Herzog, a member of the Pearl Park SAIL Program:

“Even though I know how valuable exercising is, I have to confess, I am not a fan of exercise!  I can easily convince myself that I am a pretty active person, so I don’t really need an exercise program.  I’ve found the motivation I need through the SAIL Program to keep me moving in the right direction.  The social networking and the commitment of my fellow participants keeps me motivated!”

For more information:

Volunteers of America –