Unexpected benefits of volunteering

Volunteering results in positive benefits not only for the recipient, but for the volunteer as well, according to studies cited by the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research website. Those who give of their time and themselves often feel less stress in their lives and have a sense of purpose and focus.

Volunteers suffer less from isolation and depression. Another benefit is that people involved in volunteering often develop relationships that enrich lives on both sides. 

Mary Morrison, Community Caregivers’ volunteer coordinator, has seen this firsthand.

“I have worked matching the Community Caregiver volunteers with clients requesting services since May 2007. It really isn’t work because the volunteers are so gracious about accepting assignments and so giving of their time. We could not do what we do without our volunteers,” said Morrison.

“As for clients, having a Community Caregiver volunteer provide service to them is a very personal and caring experience,” Morrison continued. “Whether it is a ride to an appointment or a visit from a volunteer, clients enjoy the time spent with their volunteers and, in many instances, both develop new and special relationships.”

One such relationship evolved between Judy, a Community Caregivers volunteer, and Clark, her client who recently passed away. Judy wrote to Community Caregivers and included the following:

As I think about Clark’s death, he wasn’t just a Community Caregivers client to me, he became my friend. I hope this does not sound cliché, but I sincerely feel it was an honor and a privilege to know Clark, a decorated World War II veteran.

My time volunteering with Clark began in May 2015. I drove him to see his wife at a nursing home. On our rides, we got to know each other. He was surprised and delighted that I knew Blauvelt, New York where he had lived for many years.

Clark taught me a lot about aging well. I appreciated that he knew what he wanted and was always making choices especially when it came to food. He introduced me to his two favorite ice-cream flavors, and I learned that he liked his sunflower seeds roasted and salty.

Clark and I had many interesting conversations about politics. We learned early on that we did not watch the same cable news. But we respected each other and could converse pleasantly. It was a joy to be in Clark’s presence. I am going to miss him.

If you, a family member, or friend has been thinking about giving back or paying it forward, consider Community Caregivers. For 25 years, we have helped those in local communities who may require a little assistance while they remain in their homes and live independently with dignity.

Through a network of dedicated staff and volunteers, clients receive reassurance calls; friendly visits; and help with transportation, shopping, and light chores. Caregivers are also provided support through education and respite visits.

Community Caregivers is always seeking new volunteers and clients. For more information, visit www.communitycaregivers.org or call 518-456-2898.

Editor’s note: Kathy Brown is the Outreach and Communications coordinator for the Community Caregivers.