By Beth Pinyerd
This week, April 17-23, 2022, is recognized as National Volunteer Week! Our community is outstanding in coming forth to help fellow citizens and neighbors when there are needs and difficult challenges that arise in our community. Lee County people are there to help. Even during the pandemic our community continually outreached to help others.
The different agencies in our community make volunteers feel real special. This past Tuesday, April 19, AmeriCorps Seniors and Lee-Russell Council of Governments provided a wonderful Volunteer Appreciation Lunch to volunteers at the Opelika Public Library.
Volunteering to help others doesn’t cost a thing except your time. Many of we Baby Boomers are entering into our retirement years. For some of us it might mean that a regular work schedule slows down. Because of the change of economic needs many of we Baby Boomers will continue to work full time and part time. One model that the Greater Generation has provided for us is to freely give back to the community as volunteers no matter how busy our lives are. We as Baby Boomers have talents, gifts, skills, and wisdom that we can share with others. The benefits of a sense of purpose and relationships are so gratifying. There are things that money cannot buy. Helping others is one of those commodities. Too, as Baby Boomers, we are searching out ways to help us stay healthy. Volunteering can benefit us socially, mentally, physically and emotionally. In Classroom Observer this week, I would like to cover the benefits and from a Baby Boomer’s perspective in sharing helpful tips on how to get started as a volunteer.
Embarking on volunteer opportunities provides time for you to explore your interests and the “when, where, and why” you want to volunteer in certain areas. Here are a few questions to ask yourself.
1. Do I want to do something I am good at like music, reading, crafts, mentoring, tutoring, etc.?
2. Do I want to make the community and world I live in a better place?
3. Do I want to try something new?
4. Do I want to meet people who are different from me?
5. What can I do with my spare time to help others?
These are a few helpful questions you can ask yourself:
1. How much time can you commit to volunteer activities?
2. How do you want to serve? Do you want to serve behind the scenes or do you want to be a leader?
3. How much responsibility will be expected from you in a particular volunteer role?
4. As a Baby Boomer, what skills and talents can be tapped into for the volunteer job you are considering taking on?
5. Do you want to volunteer in serving adults, children, families, animals, environmental upkeep, etc.?
6. Where do you want to volunteer?
A. Educational settings
B. Senior centers,
D. Animal shelters
F. Places of worship
G. Local food banks
H. Service organizations
I. Youth and children’s organizations
J. Opelika/Auburn offers many community volunteer opportunities.
Benefits that volunteering provides are:
1. Social: When I grew up in Opelika, Alabama, I always noticed and was impressed how unpaid volunteers were the glue that held our community together. Those Scout leaders, Sunday School teachers, volunteer workers at our healthcare facilities, volunteers in service organizations were names that I remember to this day.
When you volunteer you make new friends. No task is too small in helping to enrich the lives of people, animals, service organizations and places of needs. As a volunteer you meet present needs and provide a lasting memory of gratitude.
2. Volunteering is good for you mentally. When you are helping and doing good for others, you just cannot help but have a good sense of accomplishment. The role you have as a volunteer gives you a sense of purpose in your Baby Boomer years. Too, freely sharing time and helpful service for others provides life satisfaction which can boost self-confidence. Because volunteering connects us with other people, depression is fought and seems to fade away.
3. Volunteering is good for our health. Many volunteer activities may require physical activity such as helping the elderly move into activities, meeting the needs of younger children, packing up boxes in service organizations and with my previous article on Pet Therapy, working with pets and animals has shown that stress and anxiety decrease and moods improve which leads to overall good health.
4. Volunteering promotes good emotional health. In volunteering in the community myself, I have noted that many of the good, committed volunteers are those who have limited mobility. People with disabilities or health conditions are so determined to help others. It is apparent that when we help others, life benefits are gained and we feel good about ourselves. This can be good for our health at any age.
It is my hope for Baby Boomers and the community to realize that when we are helping others that we are helping ourselves. It is a two way relationship where all benefit. Thursday, April 21 is High Five Day so volunteers in our community truly get a very high five.