Today’s post is a guest post from Jeanne Rosenbohm, a retired woman offering her reflections on volunteerism.
I’m a retired woman with a lot of time on my hands. After thirty years, I quit teaching early, thinking I would get a part time paid position to finance my penchant for traveling. My son has lived all over of the world, and I choose to visit him when I can.
Finding a paid position didn’t happen. Those over fifty-five fully understand the obstacles involved in obtaining employment. After frittering away four years, I decided I couldn’t stand so much alone time any more.
It was my desire to become a sitter in the labor room for women who come by themselves to the hospital to deliver their babies. That wasn’t to be.
Instead, I visit with new mothers and ask if they are interested in receiving postcards to remind them about their baby’s vaccinations.
I was also asked to be the first volunteer patient advocate at this hospital, rounding on patients. Patient Relations staff interview new admissions to determine if their needs are being met. Most respond positively, but occasionally they have complaints. The job has now expanded to interviewing patients who have just been discharged.
I have only been volunteering for two months, but it has already helped me feel a part of the community again, reconnecting with new people. For the past four years my volunteer experiences have been mainly one day events. Now I’m committed to eight hours a week.
I have a history of volunteering in various capacities throughout my life starting when I was twelve. I am aware again of the feelings of satisfaction I had when I was helping others.
It is easy to grow old if one is not active. I know. I was heading in that direction. Volunteering two mornings a week is at least as beneficial to me as it is to the hospital.
I am making new friends, learning some Spanish, and having fun. I have found that many of the patients respond to my sense of humor, warped as it is. The more I relax around the patients, the more enjoyable the interviews become. It is a joy when I leave them laughing or at least smiling.
I am in awe of some of the volunteers who are ten and twenty years older than I who put in far more hours. Their hospital pins are filled with long rows of bars that represent their hundreds of hours of service. I have yet to receive my pin. But one has to start somewhere.
In the world of volunteers, my efforts are too small to even be mentioned. I will never reach the 1,000s of hours some may donate in serving others. However, I do not feel my efforts are insignificant or that I do not matter. They are and I do. Even the Great Lakes started with a single drop of water.
Every person matters when helping others. The job of volunteering is a leveler. It doesn’t matter about income or status. Every volunteer is the same with one goal: to be of service. That’s the important thing.