Through the years we have seen leaps and bounds in the world of technology. We started with computers which led to the internet, pagers to cell phone to now smart phones, and now into the realm of live video chatting. As we age, we struggle with keeping up with the newest technology and the eventual task of learning how to navigate it. When COVID hit, these marvels were a lifeline. It allowed us to stay connected with those we loved without having to be physically there. We were able to live chat with our family, keep up with friends via texts and emails and maintain the human connection that we all crave. 

The pandemic pushed us into sheltering in place to maintain our health and that of those around us. Now the world is opening and we are finding that not everyone made it thorough this pandemic as they were before. We are finding out that good friends have been lost, that disease side effects have lingered for many and we collectively have misplaced our desire to be social. 

In days past there was not a second’s hesitation when we found out our neighbors needed help. If the family down the street needed some extra food, it was brought to them. If a house needed a new roof, friends and family showed up and the new roof was built. Mrs. Jones is sick? There would be more volunteers to care for her than was needed. 

Today that impetus to step up just for the sake of helping is fading away. We travel more, families are spread farther apart and we just do more. We know who needs our help but lean into our busy lives as justification for shelving that as a thought but no ability for action. Are we getting older? Sure. Can we do as much as we used to? No. Do we have health issues that may restrict what help we are able to give? Absolutely. Do these things prevent us from helping or volunteering our time? The answer is a resounding NO. Volunteering can take many forms, from making calls to those homebound to helping to sort donations at the local thrift store.  

Volunteering your time is not always about having to leave the house and being somewhere. One meaningful definition of volunteering is “doing more than you must because you want to without the desire for reward or compensation for a cause you feel is good.” Winding down in your physical ability does not diminish the power of your mind and your ability to be the light in someone’s darkness. Research has shown that volunteering can not only improve your physical condition, but also has a positive impact on emotional well-being and cognitive function. There are even some studies that have shown a delay in dementia on-set and improvement in short term memory in certain volunteering roles. 

Neighbors helping neighbors may be a timeworn concept to the younger generation, but as seniors we can lead them into the joys of giving their time without the thought of always desiring to have something in return. Resident of Project Support, Jeanne G., remembers those times. Recently we had a resident with health issues, and her fellow tenants all pitched in to help her through her crisis. “Neighbors helping neighbors, that’s the way it should be. Whatever happened to that?” remarked Jeanne when little outside help could be garnered. 

Well Jeanne, you are right. Neighbors helping neighbors is how it should be. It is our duty to show our fellow humans, young and old. Volunteering is a way to not only lift others up but lift ourselves up as well. We are fortunate to be in an area where there are multiple opportunities to aid our fellow man. Reach out, look out and you are sure to find somewhere or someone to help. To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world.

List of volunteer opportunities

Project Support Senior Center 303-567-2382 ext 102

Queen’s Wardrobe Thrift Shop 303-567-2382 ext 103

Volunteers of America/Meals on Wheels 303-567-2382

Charlie’s Place/Clear Creek County Animal Shelter 303-679-2477

Loaves & Fishes Food Bank 303-567-4450

Clear Creek County Advocates 303-569-1105

You can find these and more at this Clear Creek County link:

Christy Recke MS, RN, CWCN is currently the manager of Project Support Senior Center and Housing as well as their thrift store, Queen’s Wardrobe, all located in beautiful, downtown Idaho Springs. She has been a nurse for 25 years and holds a Master’s degree in Complementary and Integrative Health.