April is National Volunteer Month so I decided it was a good time to honor some volunteers I know.
Virginia scoots around in her wheelchair from table to table in the assisted living facility’s dining room. She volunteered to keep the holders for the sugar packets on each table refilled each day, and she takes her volunteer responsibilities seriously.
Lois comes to my The Hope of Glory class with her knitting in a tote. Each week she shows us the progress she’s making on the next cozy hat she’s knitting for a baby in the hospital. How grateful new parents must be to receive this handmade gift, and even if Lois never gets to see their delighted faces or see the hat on a tiny head, she keeps knitting. She also regularly reads to fellow residents with vision problems, including Joanne.
Joanne always assumed that she would spend her golden years tutoring students and reading to others, but macular degeneration derailed her plans. “I asked the Lord what He would have me do instead,” she explained to our group, “and He told me to pray for the younger generation because they need to be lifted up in prayer. So now that’s my volunteer assignment.”
And my friend Phyllis, 93, has volunteered at a thrift shop that supports community philanthropies for almost 30 years.
It’s a privilege to know older adults who still have the heart to volunteer at a time in their lives when they could so easily sit back and say, “Been there, done that. It’s someone else’s turn to volunteer now.” Rather than be complacent, they see a need and rise up to meet it. They say like Isaiah in Isaiah 6:8, “Here am I. Send me!” I call them vintage volunteers.
Recently I was asked to address a group of volunteers at the Ronald McDonald House of Southern Colorado, and I identified what all volunteers need to succeed: passion, commitment, and hope.
Our passion may be whatever makes us extremely happy or extremely angry. Whatever consumes our thoughts and inspires us to sign up or write a check. Once we identify a passion for some cause, we are more likely to volunteer.
And every volunteer needs commitment. It’s commitment that makes us show up for our volunteer shift even when it would be easier to call and cancel. And it’s commitment that moves us to complete any task we see that needs doing, even if it’s not in our volunteer job description.
Without hope, we wouldn’t volunteer at all, would we? We volunteer our time and resources because we hope our involvement will make a difference. And we hope because we care.
If you have elders in your life with time on their hands, help them recall a passion that motivated them in the past. If possible, identify some task, however small, that they can do to feed that passion. Encourage them to be committed to this volunteer effort and instill them with hope that what they do will make a difference. Vintage volunteers have so much to offer, and volunteering in any way adds purpose to their days.
First published in Pikes Peak Senior News.
Cheryl Freeman says
GUESS I AM A VOLUNTEER IN MANY PLACES AT DIFFERENT TIMES IN MY LIFE. I ENJOY PEOPLE AND HAVING A COMMON GOAL IN MIND IS FUN FOR ME. IT IS HOW I HAVE MET NEIGHBORS AND OFFERED A HELPING HAND WHEN EVER POSSIBLE. JOIN IN THE EFFORT WHATEVER IT IS AND YOU WILL COME AWAY SMILING WITH A FULLER HEART.
No guessing about it, Cheryl! I know you’ve always been one to jump in and do what needs doing. Thanks for being in touch, and for caring for others.
Elizabeth H. Van Liere says
Now at age 98 I no longer get out and do. But God let’s us do whatever we can, whenever we can, however we can. In one of those ways, (although a small one), I am glad I can help promote your new book, Nancy. Also, I’ve been given a chance to give a testimony at our church Women’s Spring Luncheon at the end of April.
Pam Cosel says
How terrific that you are still going and on this Earth at age 98! May God bless your words and that they bear fruit at the Women’s Spring Luncheon.
Elizabeth H. Van Liere says
Often wonder why I’m still here and then God sends a message. Like James Watkin’s book, If You’re Not Dead, You’re Not Done. Oops—supposed to be speaking about Nancy’s book, The Hope of Glory. But there’s always room for two. Right?
Always room for anyone who shares the Good News!
You are a treasure to many, Betty, and you contribute more to the quality of life of all who know you than you can possibly know. Your gift of encouragement simply shines! I should have some materials for you to take to your church soon. Watch for them in the mail. And THANK YOU for letting others who can use it know about The Hope of Glory.
Pat Scott says
In her 80s, a sweet lady who everyone at church called Granny decided her mission would be to call all the other elderly people in our congregation to check on them at least once a week. There were about 800 members in our church, and her list was probably at least 100 names. Granny could no longer drive, but this was a simple kindness she could do, and it brightened many lives. She set such a wonderful example.
She reminds me of some of the older ladies I’ve been blessed to know, Pat. God bless the Grannies!! Thanks for sharing.
Jan Keller says
Your passion to bring the Lord’s goodness has blessed so many because of your faithful commitment to them. Because of YOU, they gained hope! Thanks for all that you do!
Thank you, Jan–and you spread a lot of hope yourself! I just feel honored that the Lord gave me an assignment and then helps me fulfill it. He is so good.
Love this! Inspiring!
Peggy Lovelace Ellis says
In the past few days, I’ve talked with three people who are considering retiring from their stressful jobs. They told me they are financially secure, but what would they do if they didn’t go to work every day. My answer is volunteer! Local care facilities have residents many of whom never receive a visit from anyone. Many simply need conversation while others need to be read to whether newspapers or books. Have you ever gently massaged cream into old, wrinkled hands? Employees don’t always have time to do the little things. There is so much need for volunteers! Thanks, Nancy, for the reminder we older people have active lives ahead of us which we can share with others.
Peggy, those are wise words you’ve shared. After retiring from a full-time job it takes awhile to realize how many chances we have to still make a difference in this world. Hoping the people you know find just the right spots to volunteer.
Nancy, remember the day I captured your 2 soaking wet golden retrievers and let them in our front door.
I sure do! Sorry I wasn’t a more responsible pet owner. Those two!