Audrey Hepburn once said, “As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands: one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” Volunteering time and talent not only helps others; it also helps the one giving back.
Being active promotes a feeling of optimism, more satisfaction in life, a sense of purpose and higher self-esteem. In turn, being involved tends to lower the risk of depression.
“Our volunteers often say how much they receive when they volunteer,” said Debby Nabours, director of West Calcasieu Cameron Hospital’s volunteer services. “They enjoy getting out, being with people, and meeting needs. They come here to help and when they leave their shift, they often say they are the ones who were helped.”
Volunteers with WCCH work in a variety of positions. Through their management of the hospital’s gift shop, the auxiliary has raised over $308,000 over the past ten years which was donated back into the hospital foundation for improvements such as the creation of the meditation garden as well as land and equipment purchases for the hospital, including wheelchairs, tablets for education in the Women’s Center, crash carts and other equipment needed for patient care throughout the hospital.
In addition to the gift shop, volunteers also assist in the ICU and Surgical waiting rooms, bring books and reading material to patients, bring patients snacks and meals at times, and lend a hand in many ways as needed. Volunteers can also be found manning patient information stations and providing assistance with stocking and preparing rooms in the emergency department.
Many volunteers find that giving back fills a void after retirement. While a life of leisure after retirement is enjoyable, sometimes it can lead to isolation and loneliness. “It can take effort to remain connected to friends and being involved, and volunteering is a wonderful way to stay involved,” said Nabours.
Studies show the brain works best when stimulated with conversations and activities. Regular activities give a sense of purpose. When we know someone is counting on us, we try to maintain a schedule. That rhythm of life is what helps keep us functioning on a normal, healthy path.
An environment that includes interaction with others, learning new things, and socializing contributes to the ongoing growth of new brain cells in adults, no matter what age. Staying connected through activities and commitments is a great way to promote a sense of belonging.
There are about 26 million senior volunteers throughout America, giving an average of 4.4 hours a week, which adds up to the equivalent of $77.2 billion to non-profit organizations, according to the Healthy Aging Partnership. “Volunteers make a tremendous impact, both nationwide and right here at home,” continued Nabours.
She says the hospital is currently looking for additional volunteers. Those interested may call Nabours at (337) 527-4144 to request an application. Applicants must be 18 years or older and able to work independently.