Retiree Life Lesson:
About volunteering

by Wendy

HAPPY NEW YEAR Retiree Visitors!

I didn't intend to post today... after all, it's New Years Day 2012 and I should relax a bit.... but I need to pass my own Life Lesson along.

I hope this helps someone out there!

Two weeks ago, my church advised they were hosting and Emergency Church Shelter for 20 homeless women and 10 children. Another church had cancelled, and little time to coordinate this project, my church was on it. Instead of 4 months of prep time, they had just over 2 weeks -- at Christmas time!

I followed the crowd into the room, intending to donate supplies. Everyone there was willing to pitch in somehow... the power of our church community is Unbelievable!

As I'm searching for the donation sheets, I overheard the Coordinator speaking to another gal... asking if she'd be the Food Coordinator. The gal hesitated, saying she worked full-time.

I, without any thought or consideration on what I was taking on, said: "I will!"

Wait -- Who said that? Did that come out of MY mouth? Me? The analyzer? The procrastinator?

The Coordinator "hired me" on the spot. Done. Good thing she didn't know I wasn't so sure...

Reality sets in. I'm driving home. What the HECK did I just do? Logical self steps in -- I am almost done with Christmas, I have no kids for busy holidays, I'm not working... why not? Then I gave myself a mental pep talk -- Rah Rah, You can do this, Wendy!

Over the past two weeks, I've worked hard. HARDER than I have in the past 20 months since I've retired! Oh, it feels so good too! I always loved a challenge at work and this certainly stepped up into that category! Yikes!

I'm going to be glad when its over -- it's also been stressful -- but it also has really truly renewed my sense of self.

THAT is why I chose to write this today!

If you are retired and have lost yourself along the way -- something I never thought *I* would do -- I think it happened slowly, over time.... Try Volunteering!

When I think about it now, I had fallen into a rut of sorts, though I didn't realize it. I worked on my websites, but even for an introvert -- people in life are necessary.

I've done so much this past 2 weeks, must-do work that I haven't done since I worked as Retirement Manager almost 2 yrs ago. Yes, I worked on my website if and when I chose to. I did work, many hours -- but this is different.

Connecting with people, scheduling many volunteers, food donations, lotsa emails and more... all necessary tasks, all connections for the Greater Good!

I needed this volunteer experience to remind me what I have to offer to the world. Oddly enough, I tell retirees on this website the same thing all the time .. but didn't heed my own advice!

My faith in MYSELF has been renewed.. and it feels darn good!

I'm so happy I volunteered to do this... if you are searching for a happy fulfilled retirement, try volunteering. If you try something and it's not right for you, try something else. There is a big busy world out there, struggling to make ends meet in today's crazy society -- big business, small business, churches, community organizations... surely you have something to offer your own community ?

Especially if you have few friends, this is another perfect way to find some!

One last thing, on FAITH -- I have been worrying about pulling this off in two weeks. I stressed over the food donations, the volunteers, the work I needed to accomplish... lost sleep over it all. Guess what? All I needed was FAITH and everything simply fell perfectly into place, just as God intended. (See the footnote to see how far this went!)

p.s. Add your comment below if you've personally gained a sense of self, in any area, as a result of volunteering. Help others see what volunteering does for your own sense of self!! Please... help another retiree and comment below.

Footnote: Yesterday I went shopping with Martha, the Coordinator, for Heritage Church for last minute items we still needed for the emergency kitchen. I sent her an anxiety-filled email the night before... She pretty much said: Have Faith, Stop Worrying!

At church yesterday, we got a few cash donations... and were thrilled. Off we went, shopping, with $140 cash, fully intending to use credit cards for whatever else we needed.

Guess what? At the last store, we watched as the clerk rang up our bill, and Martha counted out her last dollar bills.... she got a handful of change back. Shopping was done.

NOW, think about it -- yes, it could be coincidental, but I believe it was help from above. We shopped for bulk items, from 3-4 stores -- and ended up with change. We got EXACTLY in donations what we needed that day!

Have FAITH.. it works!

Happy New Year!

Comments for Retiree Life Lesson:
About volunteering

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by: Joseph Kainikkara

Hi Wendy,

I find your narration of the volunteering experience quite inspiring. Yes, when you set out on a noble cause, a social one at that, you may be, in many cases, empty-handed. You may find yourself unnerved, skeptical, discouraged.

But if you get going, when the going gets tough, soon you would realize that there is a lot of goodness, philanthropy left in the ordinary humans of every hue and shade.

I am not sure of how it is in your place but, for my place of Kerala, India, I can say with certainty that people are willing to come forward with help once they are convinced that it would reach the targeted ones. I believe this is what is called Divine Providence.

I have my own experience of having conducted 19 medical camps in a short span of 2 years, for the deprived sections of society, under the auspices of our unit of Pain and Palliative Care with the active support of my good friend Dr. Shabeer and his hospital.

Once, in the middle of one of these camps extending to more than one week, meant for those afflicted with 'chicken gunia' (I'm not sure of the spelling!), I too fell a victim to the disease. But despite the hardships, the feeling of satisfaction and happiness the volunteering gives is unmatched!

Kudos to you for bringing up this subject!!

volunteering is great
by: Betty Audet

Volunteering and travel have given us a great retirement, 33 years since my husband was 65.

Kudos to Wendy
by: Irwin

You are so right. As I said in my most recent post, volunteering to do something, no matter what it is, is so rewarding.

The smiles we see on the faces of the veterans at the VA hospital where we perform, or watching a senior citizen who can no longer dance by herself sit there and "toe tap" and keep in time with the music as we dance, is so rewarding. Another reward is the actual meeting and talking to these people after our performance is over.

At one "gig" we actually met a gal that was 101 years old and a former New York City Rockette from Radio City Music Hall. Other than not being able to get around as good as she used to, she still had control of all her faculties and was as sharp as a tack mentally. How neat is that!

We can't wait til our first performance of the year which will be for an Assisted Living Facility sometime in February.

So, you are right, we should find something to volunteer for that satisfies both those we are volunteering for and ourselves. It is so rewarding.

Wendy: Thanks Irwin! Tonight was not a great night... so its good to have seen this comment and be reminded WHY I am doing this!

p.s. The coach who trained me as a facilitator for his retirement classes also played piano at senior homes. He was paid a small stipend, but it wasn't about the money (earned more being a coach), BUT he loved watching those faces, loved making seniors smile!

I have three Assisted Living buildings within a few miles from me... might check out volunteer opportunities there next!!

by: Irwin

By the way, just wanted to mention that our performances or gigs as we refer to them are not "paid" gigs. Our dancers (all women and me - hey guys, what type of a retirement blessing is that) are all volunteers. We do it for the fun and pleasure of making others happy.

Wendy: Wow..fantastic! Actually a great idea for others to offer to their community.. and what fun too!

Give And Receive
by: Loyce/California

I agree with Wendy re volunteering. But I always volunteer where I am appreciated and where I enjoy the people because volunteers NEED TO RECEIVE satisfaction, pleasure and even enjoyment. I'm happy to say I enjoy volunteering and am GRATEFUL to better my community. I've been volunteering for decades and FINALLY fell into a group of upbeat/cheerful/generous people and I am making good friends and using my promotional skills.

Win Win

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