Discovering a New Way of Volunteering in Retirement: Do What You Love and Share It with Others
With the holidays upon us, it is a wonderful idea to find time to honor the holiday spirit by volunteering.
Volunteering could mean many things to many people – giving of your time to serve meals to the homeless, collecting toys for disadvantaged children, getting involved in a charitable endeavor hosted by your local church, synagogue or temple.
Your caring has immediate beneficial impact not only on those you serve, but, interestingly enough – on you!
Martha Bachmann is a happy, healthy living proof of the benefits of volunteering. At 100 years young, Martha drives herself over to Stanford Hospital in Palo Alto, California, twice per week. There, as a Pink Lady, she stocks up the patient shopping cart and does her ‘rounds’ of the floors.
Meet an “Amazing!” dedicated to loving service.
MARTHA BACHMANN, 100, is the longest longest-serving volunteer in…
Martha has volunteered in this same capacity for 54 years and has no intention of stopping. She considers herself ‘blessed.’
Martha’s favorite stop is visiting the newborns. Every new baby gets a tiny beanie she knits at home with the help of her daughter and a fellow volunteer. True, some days are harder than others – it is, after all, a hospital – but Martha does her best to bring some happiness to every patient she sees, every day.
How does science explain the benefits volunteering has on our health?
Doing Good Is Good for You
A recent study found that older adults who volunteered to tutor children through a program called Experience Corps improved their stamina, memory and flexibility and helped decrease their depression.
Even more impressive, other research shows that the mortality risk is lowered by 24 percent on average (taking into account health factors) among those 55 and older who volunteer. A lower mortality risk means that you will live longer than expected, according to life-expectancy charts. And 24 percent lower is a whole lot longer!
Like Martha, Dr. Mildred Dixon, also 100, has been doing volunteering for years and has no plans to stop. Mildred is the oldest U.S. National Park Service volunteer, having served for 44 years – and counting.
Meet an “AMAZING!” with an enduring love of volunteering!
DR. MILDRED DIXON, 100, is the oldest National Park Service…
She had an illustrious career as a podiatrist until her retirement, winning many awards and kudos, but the passions that drive her today are her family, her church, and her volunteering.
The National Park Service is dear to Mildred’s heart, because, as she puts it, the parks tell a story of “inspiration, creativity and perseverance.”
Do What You Love
Want to live to be a happy, healthy 100? Volunteer! Volunteering can take many forms, all of which have terrific health advantages. The best way to volunteer is by doing what you love and sharing it with others.
It’s the ‘doing what you love’ part that inspires you to do whatever it is on an ongoing basis. Although wonderful, you don’t get those health benefits by volunteering once a year at the homeless shelter. It’s regularly ‘sharing it with others’ that triggers your improved well-being.
According to Dictionary.com, a volunteer is a “person who performs a service willingly and without pay.” Volunteering can mean anything from cooking in a community kitchen to feed the homeless, to writing uplifting stores and posting them online, to giving free dance/yoga/tai chi/drawing lessons at your local community center. It’s whatever your imagination and desire can come up with.
So give yourself a very special gift this holiday season and beyond. Make a commitment to volunteer of your time, regularly sharing what you love with others. They, and you, will be by far the better for it!
How do you volunteer during the holidays? Throughout the year? What do you enjoy most about volunteering? What are some of the things that hold you back from volunteering? Please share your passions below!
Dr. Noelle Nelson is a psychologist, consultant and speaker. She is passionate about personal growth and happiness. She’s authored over a dozen books including “Happy Healthy… Dead: Why What You Think You Know About Aging Is Wrong and How To Get It Right.” Please visit Noelle’s website.