Last weekend I met a group of elderly women in the park, knitting mufflers. At first I didn’t think much of it. It’s fairly common for grandparents to knit for their children. But then I just went up to them out of curiosity. It’s never too cold here so why were they all knitting mufflers and then I learned these were for the street children. Children who sleep on the road side benches and are cold during nights. I felt so warm inside. I said beautiful.
And then while walking back home; I was wondering “is there an age limit to volunteering?’. All those women were in their 70s or even 80s. It’s no coincidence that in the last couple of weeks I had come across stories of two very inspiring elderly people for whom volunteering is a way of life.
Betty Patrick, 74, has been volunteering with Meals on Wheels (an initiative by Volunteers of America, Colorado) for more than 20 years now. Every year, during holiday season, she along with other volunteers help Meals on Wheels serve food to senior citizens and needy families. Patrick started much early. Initially she used to cook food in her own kitchen and then take it down to a homeless shelter. When she couldn’t afford it anymore, she joined Volunteers of America’s Meals on Wheels program. According to her the most amazing part of it all are the people whom they serve. Remembering an elderly lady, Mrs. Perez, who is no more, Patrick says:
“She was the most amazing part, they all are”
78 years old Gilman Beck is busier in his retirement years than he was ever in his 40 year-long career. Gilman turned to helping others, after a personal tragedy in 1996 and has never looked back since. He volunteers as a trained EMT with the Northwood ambulance service and with the Hospice of the Red River Valley and Altru Health System’s hospice program where he assists patients and their families. Deb Kluck who coordinates volunteers at HRRV says “He will go sit with that person, if they are resting peacefully, if they don’t have a family or to give the family a break. So he’s maybe present when the person passes. It’s not an easy situation, but he just has a way…” Gilman rightly says:
“They give me more than what I can give them. Just the fact of spending time with them, you come out of there richer than when you went in.”
On the other side of spectrum are the children. Volunteering can be a great aide to parenting in teaching children compassion, respect and gratitude. Teaching kids about giving back can be the first step towards introducing them to volunteering. There are many age-appropriate activities that children can volunteer for! Volunteering combines both fun and learning, says Devanshi, the youngest volunteer with iVolunteer. Devanshi tells how volunteering with special children taught her that while we may think of them as different, they are just like any one of us.
“Towards the end we were all dancing and I noticed that these people who could not hear were dancing even after the music had stopped. Even though they could not hear music at all, they were having so much of fun just like us!!”
All that volunteering requires is a desire and a commitment; both of which know no minimum or maximum age limits.
Do you know children and/or senior volunteers? Share their stories with us and help inspire many more!
Wouldn’t it be great to bring senior volunteers and children volunteers together so that both can learn from each other? Do you know of any event where this has happened?