Many seniors want to continue to live a life of purpose in retirement and have turned to volunteering to satisfy that desire. The medical community recognizes the benefits of charitable work to enhance the physical, spiritual, and mental stimulation of older adults. The National Institute on Aging suggests that volunteering prevents isolation and can have a healthy effect on one’s cognitive behavior and potentially even thwart the progression of Alzheimer’s disease (“Preventing Alzheimer’s Disease and What Do We Know? Is Keeping Your Brain Active Important?” Oct. 8 2015, National Institute on Aging). Senior volunteers can testify that acts of charitable giving provide a sense of purpose and direction by filling days with meaningful activities.
Hebrew SeniorLife geriatrician Dr. Jennifer Brinckerhoff of Orchard Cove regularly prescribes seniors to take action in their communities. She explains, “Resident engagement with real application and effect is a key piece of establishing and sustaining well-being in the individual. Focus and a caring heart that can come from volunteering all lead to the improved well-being and community growth.”
Although the holiday season is often a time of year when people think about giving back, residents of our senior living communities at NewBridge on the Charles in Dedham and Orchard Cove in Canton extend their outreach as volunteers all year long. “I think at NewBridge there is a spirit of cooperation, giving and sharing. It’s the best in the sense of a community that comes together,” said Frankie Wolff, NewBridge resident and member of the Volunteer Outreach Committee. “It’s certainly important at this stage of my life to remain active mentally, physically, and spiritually. Being at NewBridge offers all of that.”
Every month, the volunteers come together to give back to different programs locally and around the world. They gather groceries for the Dedham Food Pantry, collect used phones for Cell Phones For Soldiers, manage a clothing drive for Ukrainian Jewish women, and collect toiletries and eyeglass frames to donate at local shelters. The Committee also assembles a monthly Birthday in a Box to surprise a child in need on his/her birthday.
Over the past twenty years, residents at Orchard Cove have raised over $150,000 to help fund the educational and future career pursuits of their employees from surrounding communities through the Scholarship Committee.
The talented quilters and knitters at Orchard Cove use their skills to give back to children who have experienced traumatic circumstances through the Greater Boston non-profit chapter of Project Linus. For thirteen consecutive years, Orchard Cove seniors have donated handmade quilts, blankets, sweaters, hats and mittens to help sick and disadvantaged women and children find comfort during a troublesome time in their lives.
Betsy Sterman, an Orchard Cove resident, started the program over ten years ago. As Betsy shares, “It was really one of the first ‘do good’ programs at Orchard Cove. It has become a marvelous initiative that has grown. We never meet the recipients of our donations, but it’s very rewarding to receive the numerous letters from parents and nurses in their care.” In 2007, LeadingAge of Massachusetts recognized the Project Linus program at Orchard Cove with the Community Service Award for their outstanding accomplishments.
Consider volunteering in your community this holiday season and throughout the year. There are many different organizations accepting volunteers of all ages that need your support, including Hebrew SeniorLife.
Learn more about all the diverse volunteer opportunities at Hebrew SeniorLife, or check out VolunteerMatch.org to find opportunities for volunteerism in your community.
More on Volunteering at Hebrew SeniorLife:
The Hebrew SeniorLife volunteer corps includes more than 300 individuals, ranging in age from 16 to 90+. Our volunteers are retirees, professionals, students, family members, and others. We count on our volunteers to improve the quality of our residents' lives in a variety of ways. All of our volunteers receive thorough on-the-job training and supervision and are encouraged to set their own volunteer schedule. You may decide to volunteer days or evenings, an hour or two a week, or once a month - no matter how much time you give, you will make a difference!