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Tuesday, Aug. 23, 2016

Volunteering, it works for me

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A fellow by the name of Tom Brokaw once said, "It's easy to make a buck. It's a lot harder to make a difference." While the relative truth of that statement can vary from one individual to another, we know from experience that when we volunteer, we make a difference in the life of someone with a need. At the same time, we benefit immensely ourselves. Allow me to explain.

I've had several opportunities to volunteer since retiring a year ago. One involves providing a form of respite care to a gentleman who has suffered a stroke. Spending about four hours a week with "Ralph" makes it possible for his wife to have a break from care giving and maintain vital contacts with friends in the community.

The other assignment I have is with an elderly dialysis patient who occasionally needs transportation to a clinic in another county. "Tom" has a regular driver, but every now and then he needs someone as a substitute or alternate driver. That's where I come in.

Both gentlemen are fun to be with and are always grateful for the time we spend together. My impression of the visits is that I come away considerably more blessed than if I had passed up the chance to volunteer.

If it weren't for Ralph, I'm quite sure I wouldn't have been privileged to view hawks and eagles as we drive along on numerous county back roads. We are on the lookout for deer, too, and spot them watching us from a safe distance. What fun seeing them glide through the brush as they realize we have been observing them! About two weeks ago, we came upon several river otters on a frozen farm pond. What a kick!

Tom spent many years as an over-the-road trucker. His twice-weekly treks for four-hour stints undergoing dialysis are a necessary interruption to an otherwise pleasant lifestyle at an independent living facility. His positive attitude is nothing short of inspiring! I learn patience and tolerance from him. Since his daily routine is typically pretty predictable, the roundtrip for dialysis is an outing for Tom - a chance to see someone new and converse about the good old days. And I'm the beneficiary of his storytelling!

Don't get me wrong: I've enjoyed every minute of retirement. At the same time, I wouldn't give up my time with Ralph and Tom for anything. I recommend everyone consider where they can make a difference in another's life. The opportunities are endless. It doesn't have to be complicated or difficult. Think about it, pray about it, and get connected!

To begin the process, it is as easy as calling the Volunteer Network of Clay County at 262-IVOL (4865) or going online at www.volunteerclaycounty.com.

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