Volunteering – You’re Never Too Old to Change the World

“As you grow older, you will discover that you have two hands – one for helping yourself, the other for helping others.” –Audrey Hepburn

Last week on Facebook a memory popped up reminding me that 1 year ago, I “graduated” from Docent Training at our local museum.

Graduation day with my mentor, Marlene.

Since seeing that memory, I’ve been racking my brain trying to remember my first volunteer experience. Of course, I’m having a hard time – probably due to menopause brain (which by the way, seems to be a contributing factor for many of my “ailments” these days!). I’m sure I must have done some volunteering when I was a Brownie & a Girl Scout –  wasn’t that one of the badges? And since I never really got an allowance as a kid, I’m counting chores as volunteer work! And then, there was my six-week gig at the local tv station which was nothing more than a glorified (and fun!!) volunteering opportunity disguised as a college internship (worth 3 credits & a diploma!).

However, my “real” volunteering began when Chris started kindergarten. It was VERY important to me that I be involved with him through every step of his formative years (much to his chagrin) and I was VERY lucky not to have to work at an additional full-time job. Because of this, I volunteered for as many jobs as possible – everything from Art Masterpiece coordinator to Lacrosse Team mom. I helped out at Fall carnivals, school socials & big fundraising Galas. There was almost nothing I didn’t have at least a bit part in. Most importantly for those 13 years, I LOVED EVERY MINUTE! (side note here – I’m now choosing to forget about the petty politics & the petty people that went along with those jobs 😞)

Once he graduated from high school, I knew I needed to find something else – something that would give me just as much satisfaction. When I still lived in Carlsbad, I volunteered with the international “Coastal Clean-up Day” which strives to clean up our coasts. That was definitely a good fit for me as I voluntarily clean up beaches wherever we go. My friends & family used to tell me to “just leave it” but in clear conscience, there was just no way I could/can.

An arial view of the Long Beach Museum of Art

When I moved up to Long Beach, I wasn’t working & didn’t have a lot of nearby friends. Chris was still in college & Jerome was working long hours at his new job. I, too, looked for a job at first but nothing panned out (read: jobs for women over 50 are few & far between). I wanted/needed to get involved with something that would add some value to my life. Enter The Long Beach Museum of Art. I can’t tell you how fortunate I feel to have this gorgeous little museum walking distance from my house.

Looking out at the Pacific from our Oceanview Gallery. The Port of LB sculpture is by Kiel Johnson.

I’ve always loved art & going to museums so becoming a Docent seemed like a great fit. And so far, it has been. I’ve met a whole new group of lovely people – many I now call friends. I’ve learned a lot about artists, both new & established. I’ve even dabbled with my creative side by drawing, painting & making pottery.

Working the pottery wheel
My unfinished “work of art”
My finished “work of art”

I did a little research on the benefits of volunteering. Here are a few:

  • volunteering improves psychological & physical health
  • volunteers can build social networks that support them during times of stress
  • volunteering fills a gap in your personal life & adds intellectual stimulation & growth
  • volunteering, particularly by older adults(us), can boost metabolism & reduce blood pressure(YES!)
  • volunteering appears to help with self-esteem & confidence
I’m a celebrity in my own mind!

As with most things in life, there are also some negatives to volunteering (petty politics & petty people!), but I’m sure you can figure those out on your own. The most important thing is to find something you really love & to remember “no one can do everything but everyone can do something”.

Attending one of our After Dark exhibition openings

Do you volunteer? Leave me a message.

Thanks for reading!

xo, Erin

 

 

4 thoughts on “Volunteering – You’re Never Too Old to Change the World

  1. I do volunteer when I have the time: mostly weekends either walking dogs at the local shelter, at a local POWW market or during the holidays feeding the homeless. Currently I am sponsoring a drive at work for the homeless and their pets, we are collecting baby socks (to protect dogs paws), food and water for both humans and their pets and passing it out at the local parks where many live.It is important for our souls to give unselfishly.

    1. Liz, good for you volunteering with animals. They really are my main passion but I’m way too emotional to volunteer my time. I do, however, send multiple shelters money a few times a year. So glad you’re getting socks for their little paws. I feel like that should be a law in AZ☀️

  2. My mom was my first “volunteer role model”. She has been volunteering at “The Echo Shop”, a local second hand store, for over 40 years! And she still does it every other Tuesday, along with another second hand store, The Nearly New Shop. I still love my high school Snack Shack volunteering, and until somebody else takes it over, I suppose i’ll just keep on doing it! It fills me up to give my time and effort, which I guess is the goal of giving, right?

    1. Marcia,
      So awesome about your mom! And for you giving back to your high school. If that’s what fulfills you then I say, keep it up!

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