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Volunteer: What the World Needs Now Is YOU!
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, September 2006

Everyone everywhere can use a helping hand. At some point in your life, someone was probably there for you at a difficult or lonely moment of your life. If someone wasn’t there, wouldn’t you have appreciated it if someone HAD been? Why not become that person you most wanted and needed, and then be available for someone else?

Volunteering to help others, especially when you are older (a time of life when many people focus on what they either no longer have or can no longer do), can be an enriching experience that will give you an immeasurable sense of self-worth, as well as an iron - clad defense against feelings of isolation and loneliness.

1. Do What You Like to Do - Do something or be in a setting that suits you and your personality. If you like to be around babies, there are plenty who would love to be held and cuddled, and who need affection. If animals are your thing, offer to take some of the shelter dogs for walks. Tutor a child at the local clubs or youth organizations. If you have musical talents, offer to play the piano at the local nursing home or church social.

2. Don’t Look for Anything in Return - When you are older -- and hopefully wiser and more mature- -you understand that the returns are often not what you thought they would be. Allow yourself to be surprised by what you experience.

3. It Is a Real Job - Think of your volunteer job as your job. Focus time and energy into your work and realize that you’re helping other people in a profound way.

4. Don’t Get in Over Your Head - Get to know the routine of the job and the environment. Find a schedule that works for you and when you are at your most energetic and alert. You can always do more; what is difficult is jumping in too soon and having to cut back on your commitment. People will soon be dependent upon you and grateful to you, so get off to a good start by being realistic about what you can do.

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