Aging well: Volunteering yields bounty of benefits | CraigDailyPress.com
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Aging well: Volunteering yields bounty of benefits

Tamera Manzanares
Betty Leipold stands in the historical kitchen display at the Tread of Pioneers Museum where she volunteers one day a week. Many community programs depend on older volunteers who, in turn, reap many rewards from their work.
Courtesy Photo

Thanks for the help

The Visiting Nurse Association thanks volunteers who helped clean the Rollingstone Respite House on June 20:

Carol Baily and friends -

(Kiwanis Club of Steamboat Springs)

Clair Erickson

Bud Romberg

Vesna Palmer

Marie Matta

Marne Roberts

Molly Orr

Beverly Lehrer-Brennan

Susan Shoemaker

Barb O'Connor

Bonne MacFarland

Jim Barker, of Steve Green Co. -

(donated cleaning supplies)

Resources

• Explore local nonprofit programs and organizations and potential volunteer opportunities at http://www.yampavalley.i...

• For articles and information about a broad range of volunteer opportunities and ideas, visit http://www.aarp.org/make...

• For more information about the benefits of volunteering and Senior Corps, a program of the Corporation for National & Community Service, visit http://www.nationalservi...

Thanks for the help

The Visiting Nurse Association thanks volunteers who helped clean the Rollingstone Respite House on June 20:

Carol Baily and friends –

(Kiwanis Club of Steamboat Springs)

Clair Erickson

Bud Romberg

Vesna Palmer

Marie Matta

Marne Roberts

Molly Orr

Beverly Lehrer-Brennan

Susan Shoemaker

Barb O’Connor

Bonne MacFarland

Jim Barker, of Steve Green Co. –

(donated cleaning supplies)

Resources

• Explore local nonprofit programs and organizations and potential volunteer opportunities at http://www.yampavalley.i…

• For articles and information about a broad range of volunteer opportunities and ideas, visit http://www.aarp.org/make…

• For more information about the benefits of volunteering and Senior Corps, a program of the Corporation for National & Community Service, visit http://www.nationalservi…

One day per week, for the past 10 years, Betty Leipold has helped share Routt County’s history.

Leipold, 82, volunteers her time at the Tread of Pioneers Museum, greeting visitors and handling gift shop sales. A resident for 32 years, she is well equipped to answer questions and invite guests to learn about the region’s rich past.

Leipold’s job, one of three volunteer positions she fills in the community, keeps her in touch with town happenings and also is an opportunity to meet people from around the world.

“I don’t have to work but why not do something constructive that helps out,” she said.

Older volunteers such as Leipold are serving the community in a myriad of ways, producing benefits that often come full circle back to the volunteers themselves.

“You really receive back more than you give,” explained Karen Gibson, who has volunteered as coordinator of the SHARE program in Craig for more than 10 years.

The program, which provides discounted food to the community, could not operate without volunteers.

Gibson’s experience has made her a firm believer in the power of volunteerism in strengthening individuals’ self confidence, as well as their relationships with others.

“Teamwork is very important,” she said. “I just love the community building that comes out of working together for a purpose.”

Helping others or working toward a community goal can provide volunteers immense personal satisfaction. Volunteers may be surprised, however, by the profound effect that sense of accomplishment can have on their overall wellbeing.

Studies of older adults have found volunteering has positive effects on their mental and physical health.

Older volunteers have lower rates of depression, higher functional ability and tend to live longer than those who don’t volunteer, according to The Health Benefits of Volunteering, a 2007 report by the Corporation for National & Community Service.

This may be why Baby Boomers, the latest generation nearing or in retirement, have the highest volunteer rate of any age group – about 33 percent. The Corporation projected their volunteer numbers will increase from 9 million in 2007 to more than 13 million in 2020.

There are no shortage of opportunities for older volunteers to apply their knowledge, skills and enthusiasm. Their life and work experience can be incredibly valuable to organizations juggling many tasks with limited resources.

Often, volunteers follow their interests and then see where their skills or experience can be helpful. Many programs have a wide variety of needs.

“We’ve had people who were pulling their oxygen tanks around while helping us,” Gibson said. “There are all kinds of jobs for all kinds of abilities.”

Many organizations, including SHARE, are in need of administrative help – promotions, Web design, etc. – but welcome any help a volunteer is willing to give.

Just showing up and being enthusiastic goes a long way. It also helps to be open-minded, Gibson said.

“There are those that have a preconceived way of how it should go, so sometimes they have to let that go if they want to be part of a big group,” Gibson said.

In addition to exploring programs of interests, potential volunteers also can look to their existing networks such as church groups for suggestions on where to volunteer. First time volunteers also might be more comfortable volunteering with friends or family or trying out short term opportunities or events.

There is no set amount of time a person must volunteer, though the more a person volunteers, the more likely they are to continue volunteering and experience health benefits.

The Corporation for National & Community Service also recommends people begin volunteering while still working, so that it’s easier to establish a volunteer routine into retirement.

Just like any job, it can take a few tries before a person finds the right volunteer situation. The key is not to give up and to be open to new possibilities.

“Sometimes we don’t take advantage of the invitations we are given,” Gibson said.

Tamera Manzanares writes for the Aging Well program and can be reached at tmanzanares@nwcovna.org or 871-7606. Aging Well, a division of Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association, is a community-based program of healthy aging for adults 50 and better. For more information or to view past articles, log onto http://www.agingwelltoday.com.


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