Volunteers In Their Own Voice
CHUCK & RITA, interviewed by Keith Darby, staff
Chuck retired from the insurance business in the mid 1980s. It didn't take long for he and his wife Rita do get involved as volunteers in their local community. They gave time to a local museum and to the blood bank. Long time members of RSVP they now volunteer at the local food pantry and are regular drivers for the home delivered meals program originating from the Littleton Area Senior Center.
Every Wednesday they set out on a route that takes them on miles of back roads - roads that a very muddy at this time of year! Emulating the well-known motto of the United States Post Office, no weather deters Chuck and Rita from their weekly rounds taking meals to elders who are homebound; and if a driver on another day is unavailable, they will substitute on that person's route.
RSVP and volunteering are in their blood and have been since their days living in Florida; plus they make a great team. Chuck does his part to encourage others to join Rita and himself in their volunteer efforts. "Volunteering is such a pleasure," says Chuck. "It is such a rewarding part of our lives and I suppose you could say that that, in itself, because it gives us such satisfaction, is rather selfish."
LAURA, interviewed by Ashley, Youth Volunteer
Venturing into the Upper Valley Senior Center craft shop I instantly felt a wave of acceptance and love. When I spotted Laura and began her interview, the wave just got more intense.
Laura has been an RSVP volunteer for five years, serving two days a week in the shop. She started quilting when she retired in 1969. One day she decided to come to the UV Senior Center to sew and quilt with other people besides herself. The quilters' handiwork raises money for the Senior Center. It just goes to show that volunteering doesn't have to seem like work, it can be doing something you enjoy.
"Volunteering has made me wonderful friends and when I leave the craft shop I feel like I accomplished something". When asked how she felt about spending her spare time volunteering, Laura summed it up, "I love it!"
BILL & CAROLYN, interviewed by Ashley, Youth Volunteer
As I journey into the Upper Valley Senior Center an older man named Bill stuck out among the crowd. Just by looking at Bill you could tell he had the drive, ambition, and the get up and go of a high school boy.
Bill and his wife Carolyn have been volunteering for twenty years. Originally from New Hampshire and Maine, they used to live in Delaware which is where they first started volunteering. When they moved to the Lebanon area they continued their acts of kindness.
As a team, they deliver meals to people who are homebound. As Carolyn puts it, "I'm glad someone has something for me to do." Bill uses his carpentry skills to build things for others, through Chore Corps. He has also built many of the desks, cabinets, and tables which are used in the Senior Center and at RSVP and the Volunteer Center. The couple agree that volunteering makes them feel good, lifts their spirits, is good exercise, and also is a great help to the community.
As Bill said "The Senior Center is a good place which does a lot for people. More volunteers are always needed and appreciated."
ANN, interviewed by Keith Darby, staff
"I have been involved in the social services field for most of my life," says RSVP volunteer, Ann, who currently gives her time and effort as a home delivered meals driver through the Orford Area Senior Services. "To volunteer and continue to help people after I retired seemed a natural thing for me to do," she adds. Once a week she sets off into the hills of the rural New England town of Orford. With a bright smile and compassionate frame of mind she not only delivers meals but spends time visiting with her charges; an occasion to which they, too, look forward.
Volunteering and community involvement are a way of life for Ann. She has been a participant in the Chore Corps program, that helps older people with minor chores and has helped out at the local library. Currently she installs Life Line systems for persons living alone, does distance medical driving for those who need a ride to the doctors or hospital and, for the past seven years, has been a home delivered meals driver. "I just love to be busy," she says. Her volunteer activities certainly bear that out but, on top of those, Ann also has to tend to her responsibilities as a member of her local select board.
"The home delivered meals program is a great program," she says, but she feels badly about elders who would be helped by the meals but for one reason or another do not sign up. "Those to whom I deliver really enjoy my visits and I feel very good about that," she says. In fact she sometimes wonders if she is not being somewhat selfish in enjoying the satisfaction she derives from what she does. She also gets concerned about the future and about who will be available and willing to continue her work when she really retires. However, she doesn't believe in browbeating friends and neighbors into becoming involved because, as she puts it, "For some, now is not the right time but when it is they will discover what I already experience -- that volunteering is an uplifting and important ingredient in life."
VIRGINIA, interviewed by Ashley, Youth Volunteer
If you happen to wander into The Upper Valley Senior Center one afternoon for what is called the congregate meal, (also known as "lunch",) you may be greeted by a very warm and welcoming smile from Virginia.
Virginia has been an RSVP volunteer at the UV Senior Center for ten years now, eight of which she was waiting on tables. For the past two years she has covered the front desk, which she has a lot of experience doing because Virginia was previously a secretary to a school principal for twenty years. Some of her hobbies include keeping her seven room house clean, reading, sewing and other arts and crafts.
"It's good to keep busy as you get older - it eases your aches," Virginia says about volunteering. Some of the things she enjoys about volunteering: her time at the center includes all the free entertainment, meeting interesting people, and getting out of the house. When I asked Virginia why she continues to volunteer she said "Volunteers are needed, and as you get older it's better to get out than to sit at home and ache some more."