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Key to healthier, happier retirement may be volunteering

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After elections, and before the holidays, is an equally important day, World Kindness Day. Next Tuesday, November 13th, is an internationally recognized day to focus on good deeds throughout communities. The cause was introduced in 1998 by the World Kindness Movement, and people from all over the world participate. At LTC Consumer we wanted to honor three people in retirement who show kindness by volunteering within their communities and encouraging others to do the same.

Moving to a retirement community doesn’t mean slowing down

When Bettirae Willis moved to Oregon years ago she left her clinical practice specializing in family therapy, but she didn’t lose her need to help people. Over the years she has been involved extensively with her church, contributed to the AAUW, and traveled to Zambia for World Vision. More recently she sings in a large choir whose concerts raise money for benefits, and she has been teaching quilting and donating quilts to Cares Northwest whose mission is to stop child abuse and neglect. Even selling her home and moving into a retirement community with her husband hasn’t slowed down Willis, 81. She just reached out to Maybelle Center for Community and plans to start there soon. “Connecting to people makes life more interesting,” she said. “It’s important to me- I’m not a huge extrovert- not to be so totally isolated.”

November 13 is World Kindness Day. Retirees who volunteer show kindness in their communities.
November 13 is World Kindness Day. Retirees who volunteer show kindness in their communities.

Feeding people while preserving their dignity

Cheryl Kendall, 71, is a retired accountant who started volunteering for Harvest Share about ten years ago. She started out just doing data entry and is now the lead. The organization takes food donations from community farmers and stores and sets their space up like a store, preserving the dignity of those who need to “shop” there. Kendall says she loves the people, “It’s become like a little family.” She also enjoys giving out the food and being active in her community.

Comforting children and making a difference

For someone who always had a place in her heart for kids with problems, Shirley Clover, 82, found a perfect opportunity to give back. After retiring from Fred Meyer after 26 years Clover first volunteered at a homeless shelter for ten years, and for the past eight years she spends two days a week with Volunteers of America helping out with the family relief program. She spends time in the nursery, playing with kids, talking to them, rocking babies, and trying to make a difference in their lives. “I have to say that in all these years I have never gone in there and not had a smile on my face most of the time.” She said if she didn’t stay busy volunteering, she’s not sure she’d still be here.

“Connecting to people makes life more interesting.”

Health benefits of volunteer work

Volunteering in retirement has actually been proven to have many health benefits. It reduces loneliness by getting people out of their houses and into their communities. It makes people feel fulfilled and giving them a purpose after their working years. Elderly volunteers have been shown to have actual physical improvements, less disease, and longer lives. If you are interested in volunteering, consider Peace Corps, Habitat for Humanity, Meals on Wheels, or many others.

The ultimate act of kindness

World Kindness Day is a good reminder to us all to make an effort to improve someone else’s life. Volunteering in retirement improves other’s lives as well as your own. As your resource for long term care planning, LTC Consumer knows one of the kindest things you can do for yourself and for your family is to have a long term care plan. If you think that plan could include long-term care insurance, talk to a specialist today to find out which option is right for you.

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