Celebrate the holidays by sharing your time, talent and treasures
By Meghann Finn Sepulveda
For many, the holiday season is the most wonderful time of the year. Opportunities abound for us to share our time, talent and treasures to make a difference in the lives of those in need, while also sharing precious moments with family and friends enjoying holiday meals and making memories.
Find your passion
Whether it’s serving meals to the homeless or reading books to young children, there are plenty of ways to give back, not only during the holidays but throughout the year.
Frances Kline, 71, volunteers several days a week at her church, St. Joachim and St. Anne Parish in Sun City. The Sun Health at Home member gets together with friends every Tuesday afternoon to make rosaries.
“It’s really something I enjoy. I truly feel like I am the one receiving, not giving,” Frances says.
The group, part of Our Lady’s Rosary Makers International, fashions rosaries for Catholic churches, missions and organizations. One church requests a 1,000 rosaries each month from Frances’ parish. Frances is part of a group of Catholic women from various parishes in Sun City, El Mirage, Youngtown, Sun City West, Sun City Grand and Surprise.
“We make the rosaries at home, and our ministry meets once a week so we can turn in our rosaries, get more supplies, and have fun together,” she added. “Volunteering keeps me busy and is very fulfilling,” she said. “I’ve also met some wonderful people who have become great friends.”
Seniors of all ages and abilities, including those who are homebound, can volunteer by making phone calls, writing thank you notes or assembling materials on behalf of local nonprofits in the Valley. Those looking to find the volunteer activities can also visit volunteermatch.org to search available opportunities in their area.
Health benefits of volunteering
There are many mental and physical health benefits associated with volunteering.
Research conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, shows that volunteers enjoy health benefits, including lower levels of anxiety and depression, loneliness and social isolation.
After his wife passed away last year, 91-year-old Tom Engelhardt realized he had more free time and began to explore volunteer opportunities. Prior to caring for his wife, Tom maintained a long history of giving back. He volunteered for a variety of nonprofit organizations assisting low-income communities.
Today, he volunteers one day a week at Banner Boswell Medical Center, greeting patients and their family members at a reception desk. This allows him not only to feel useful, but he’s able to socialize. He says that volunteer work gives him a great deal of satisfaction and joy.
“I now have a reason to get up and leave the house,” says the retired lawyer. “I’ve had the opportunity to meet and talk to many people.”
Tom, a Sun Health at Home member and Peoria resident, also volunteers at Sun Health doing office work and educating fellow Sun Health at Home members about making important life decisions. He’s looking for even more ways to give back.
“I consider contributing to the community as a payback to living a good life,” he added.
Sun Health at Home fosters volunteerism among members
Sun Health at Home, a continuing care at home program that promotes successful aging through a focus on health and wellness, regularly provides group volunteer opportunities for members.
“We know that having our members involved in the community helps keep them healthy, mentally active and engaged,” said Barbara Mason, executive director at Sun Health at Home. “Our senior population has a storehouse of knowledge and life experience and they enjoy sharing their talents in a meaningful way.”
Community service activities are a prominent part of Sun Health at Home’s calendar of events.
“Recently, our members participated in the Walk to End Alzheimer’s in October, volunteered at the St. Mary’s Food Bank in November and are adopting a family for the holidays,” said Nicole Holtsclaw, special events coordinator for Sun Health at Home. “In addition, we are able to help connect individual members to volunteer activities that meet their personal interests.”