April is National Volunteer Month

by Elinor Nuxoll

When I moved to Spokane, Washington in 1972, I got involved with other Californians in "Buttercup Recycling," saving newspapers, cardboard, aluminum cans and glass bottles was a new idea. We had warehouse space donated and we talked to the "Expo '74 World Fair" committee but they started their own project.

Soon I was involved with the Area Agency of Aging where I served six years on the Advisory County and the Panel on Aging, and I became a member of the State Council on Aging.

The World Fair made 1974 an exciting year for me. I had a Season's Pass and spent every day there for the six months it was open. I had earned an A.A.in Library Technology in California but in Spokane I would need an advance degree in Library. I was remarried and my husband was happy to have me volunteering.

In 1976 I joined the Peace Corps as a University Year for Action volunteer, an opportunity to go to college with tuition paid by working 30 hours a week. After the year, I earned grants from the American of University Women and Women in Communication and graduated with a dual degree in Social Work and Journalism.

At last I started my career. I worked 5 years with a senior newspaper and 6.5 years as Director of Spokane's Retired Senior Volunteer Program. During these years I volunteered for the Washington State Office of AARP.

I retired at age 67 and signed up with RSVP. By then I was a Media Specialist with AARP and I also spent my time recording college text books for Tape Recording For the Blind. I was nominated for Senior
Citizen of the Year and United Way Volunteer of the Year and I was selected for both.

Rewards for volunteering included being invited to community lunches, riding in Spokane's Lilac Festival Parade, and expenses paid for trips to Olympia and to cities in other states. I will never forget the Close Up Week I spent in Washington D.C. with a visit to the White House, and to my Congressman's office in the U. S. Capitol building.

Tom Foley was Speaker of the House then I have a photo with me with him.

In 1996 I was voted one of 5 delegates of our state to go to the AARP Conference in Minneapolis. Delegates sat in the front rows and Vice President Al Gore walked by me when he was going to the stage to talk about Medicare.

At home I was involved with Spokane's Wellness conferences and I was voted a Lifetime Citizen by the Citizen League of Spokane in 2000.

I was the first woman to receive this honor which was won by two past Mayors of the city.

During the next two years I was caregiver for my husband after his stroke. Finally my family moved us to Maplewood Gardens. I was nominated for the Celebrate Life Pageant. Nominees from assisted living and nursing homes told her audience about our activities and the judges voted me 2003 Celebrate Life Queen. Once again, I would ride in the Lilac Festival Parade in a classic car, a 1958 Ford Mustang.

In my last years in Spokane I was awarded RSVP certificates for 15 years of service and over 1000 hours served. I joined RSVP in Woodburn, Oregon and have been reporting an average 80 hours a month for over five years. I volunteer from home, writing articles and book reviews for senior publications, and
letters to shut-ins.

I once read in a book about centenarians that a Sense of Purpose helps people live longer. At 90, I am thinking I owe my extra years to volunteering.

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