Will “Ole Rockin’ Chair git you”, or will you climb out of your sitting position and make something of yourself, whether or not you have made something of yourself up to this point in your long life? How often have you seen photos or moving pictures, likely in a rural setting, of the old geezers quietly rocking on the front porch or lazing in the yard hammock, or leaning on the fence either chatting with a neighbor or perhaps talking with the horses in the corral?
Well, these are only illustrations and perhaps these physically inert individuals may perform vital activities that have not yet been photographed, but the impression of inactivity remains. So while these old guys may be nearing nap time, let’s shake them awake a bit and find some real meaning for their waning years.
There may be professionally prescribed prescriptions why your life should have “value added”, but the two absolute reasons are that 1) adding value to your life will help stabilize or improve you own health and 2) working on behalf of others will make you a more interesting person. And, sakes alive, we need to be more interesting in our advanced age. I found out a result of #2 above when a 19 year old college student friend called me and wanted to talk to me about the weekly radio show I do as a volunteer on a local community station. He wanted to know how I found subjects for the show and how I went about creating questions and conversations for my weekly guests. We had a nice lunch, he learned what he needed, and I felt we had established a more equal relationship in that we discussed his interest in my volunteer activity and I had a chance to discuss my “value added” service with a 19 year old youth.
Let’s start looking someplace for a chance to get busy being a person of value. Take a look at the volunteer opportunities available to you at a nearby hospital, whether it’s a modest rural institution or a big city goliath. Living near Duke Medical Center allowed me to check their volunteer list. There are many needed volunteers for specific essential tasks right now, and others which might be needed from time to time. I have at least two friends who have volunteered at Duke and they have told me of the personal satisfaction they have received for their effort.
I have another friend who gets around quite well with his cane, but is somewhat restricted, so every week he visits his church to help the staff with mailing a newsletter or other messages to the membership. Our physical capabilities can determine the limits of our volunteer work, but those who need our service can often find a place or activity where our skills can fill a direct and essential need. What more is there in life than to be needed and thanked for our efforts?
Believe me, there are unlimited opportunities to do something of value with our late in life existence. While searching the web, I found a long list of many volunteer opportunities. The most popular activity on this list is to help with fund raising, most likely for non-profit institutions. Other functions high on the list include tutoring, food serving or distributing, manual labor (like Habitat for Humanity), youth mentoring, music performance, greeting or ministering, volunteer fire/EMT, and others.
A popular phrase now is “Micro Volunteering” at home or in a confined location. These can be short, 2, 3, or 5 minute acts that can be done easily when confined, even in a wheel chair or perhaps bedridden. Visit “Help from Home” to learn the keys to these short, but essential tasks. Another vital need can be military vets who might choose to visit “OnBehalf.org” and offer their help to wounded veterans, of which there are too many that need new strength and recovery.
No one is forcing you to volunteer with an established non-profit or other organization of good will. Just remember what your Mother taught you about cleaning up after using the bathroom, helping with the dinner dishes, running the vacuum cleaner, hanging up your clothes neatly, etc.,etc. If you live alone, go ahead and be a slob, but if living with a partner, go at least ½ way toward making the home environment look and smell nice. You’ll be doing both yourself and others big, generous, smiling favors.