The last several years of my employment were challenging. I started my career 50 years ago, working with civil rights agencies. I longed for the fulfillment I experienced when doing work that made a difference in the lives of people. As I contemplated retirement, my priority was to do things that I would enjoy and make a difference in the lives of others.
During this time, my best friend Lynda Greene became the executive director of the Southeast Seattle Senior Center (SESSC). I attended several events at the center and discovered that it was full of active, happy people.
Lynda asked me to help with a major fundraising event, which launched my SESSC volunteer service, three years before I retired. I volunteered the day of events. My experiences at the center during this time made me realize I had talents that could benefit the center and in turn I began to feel better about my purpose in life.
Nonprofits cannot afford a number of support staff; however, skilled volunteers are a great asset. With only two full-time and three part-time staff, volunteers are important to successful SESSC operations. My skills include administrative, organizational, project management, budgeting, developing procedures, operations and teamwork. These are the talents and skills I can contribute to a successful event.
While providing my volunteer services at the center, I also receive many benefits. I always have a sense of pride following an event. There is also the added benefit of keeping my mind active. Problem solving is great for keeping your brain stimulated!
I have made new friends, which is great for the soul. The center’s positive environment gave a big boost to my self-esteem. I now have a more positive outlook on life and my “golden years.”
I was concerned about getting old, but the seniors at the center are an inspiration to me. I am especially amazed at the seniors with physical challenges who are at the center every day, participating with a smiling face.
My health has also improved. I had a heart attack in 2008, basically due to job stress. During a recent visit to the cardiologist, I learned I’ve experienced significant health improvements.
I am blessed to be volunteering with seniors, as it provides me a way to continue to honor my mother. My favorite part of the day is when I take time to get a hug and chat with the elders.