Gotta Serve Somebody – Especially during memory-triggering holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and New Year’s celebrations, whether or not we’re with our families, we can fill the hole in our hearts by being of service to others and ourselves.
BY DR. PAT HANSON
The refrain of the popular Bob Dylan song “Gotta Serve Somebody” is more important than ever during the holiday season. Grandparents handling separation for reasons of distance, complicated custody issues, immigration issues, or even death, need more than ever to give their time to others in need.
Why? Not only do volunteer acts assist others, but they also benefit the volunteering individual. Studies have shown that service can cause a decrease in loneliness for those volunteering as well as helping the organizations and people they serve. Research reported by the National Institute on Aging shows that older adults who volunteer in activities they consider meaningful are happier and less depressed, cope better with loss, and may even have a lower risk of dementia and health problems.
There are many proven personal benefits of community volunteerism. Working together with a group of people who have different ethnicity, backgrounds, and views reduces stereotypes and promotes inclusiveness.
Don’t know where to begin? There are thousands of ways we can reach out to folks in their own communities. Try Volunteer Match, a portal for volunteers to connect with nonprofits. It’s actually a search engine for specific volunteer opportunities. Type in any of their categories that interest you–children and youth, education and literacy, art & culture, animals, environment, women or homeless and housing–and you’ll be given contact information for organizations in your own backyard and beyond.
Foster Grandparents serve as role models, mentors, and friends to children in need. The program provides a way for volunteers age 55 and over to stay active by serving children and youth in their communities. They may:
Help children learn to read and provide one-on-one tutoring;
- Mentor troubled teenagers and young mothers;
- Care for premature infants or children with disabilities;
- Help children who have been abused or neglected.
Especially during memory-triggering holidays like Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa
and New Year’s celebrations, whether we can be there for our descendants or not, we must remember to fill the hole in our hearts by being of service to others and ourselves.
Include this copy and book image: In Search of Stillness traces the many personal and spiritual growth experiences Hanson undertook from the 1970s to current day. Touchingly honest, tender and articulate, this memoir chronicles the courageous journey of a soul on a quest of self-discovery.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR – DR. PAT HANSON
Pat Hanson is a seasoned health educator, public speaker, and workshop facilitator. She is the author of Invisible Grandparenting: Leave A Legacy Of Love Whether You Can Be There or Not. She lectures nationally on Aging Positively and is a columnist for the magazine: Crone: Women Coming of Age