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Volunteering: The Icing on the Cupcake

Gurwin Family of Healthcare Services


Are you among the recently (or not so recently) retired? People who have spent years in their various professions often look forward with anticipation to lazy mornings, casual clothing and lunch with friends – only to find that enjoying retirement needs some balance. A life of leisure is nice, but for many, it’s also important to keep busy, stay active and involved, and have some structure to the days. While there are lots of opportunities, many of these men and women choose to give some of their time and talents to helping others by volunteering.

It is an established fact that volunteering promotes both physical and mental health. The “helper’s high” is real, and for the volunteers who turn to organizations such as the Gurwin Jewish Nursing & Rehabilitation Center, helping makes them feel vital and a part of something bigger than themselves. Volunteers can staff the gift shop, visit with residents, lead programs, teach classes, or run a book club…there are as many opportunities as there are volunteers, one need only apply!

One of the most popular volunteer experiences in long term care is the opportunity to spend time one-on-one with residents. Performing friendly visits—listening for the first time to stories that have been told a thousand times before—allows a veteran to remember his or her time in the service, a mother to reminisce about her children when they were young, or a physician to feel proud of the many lives he saved.

A shared hobby or talent brings together individuals who never knew each other but who have a very common bond. One such woman is Helen, a retired teacher and current Gurwin Friendly Visits volunteer. Helen spends Tuesday mornings with Mollie. Together they visit, share the news of the week and knit blankets and caps for newborns. At the end of their visit, Helen gathers up the finished product and makes a delivery to local hospital nurseries. “A love of knitting is what brought us together,” says Helen, “but we have become dear friends and I love my time here with Mollie. It gives me such satisfaction, I just wouldn’t miss it.”

For Bob, a retired men’s clothing executive, the “right fit” was driving the Jolly Trolley, a modified golf cart used to help transport visitors from the front lobby of Gurwin to the elevators—a considerable distance, especially for someone carrying bags or parcels. Once having completed Trolley Training, Bob was assigned one shift per week, from 4pm to 7pm; before long, he had expanded his service to three days a week. “I wasn’t sure about this at first,” he said, “but now I love it. I get to visit with a lot of different people, and they are really appreciative. It means a lot to me to keep active and be useful.”

Then there’s Roy…who just needed something to do. Apprehensive at first about working in Gurwin’s Adult Day Health Program, Roy quickly advanced to become a devoted and highly sought-after member of the team. Whether he’s setting up supplies for an art lesson, calling Bingo or helping with lunch, Roy is all about being there for “his people.”

Can you imagine helping others being part of your retirement? Healthcare is only one of endless possibilities; consider joining those who have learned the value of volunteering and sign up to help at an animal shelter, library, youth program, school or nursing home. You’ll quickly learn that the old cliché is true: You’ll surely get more than you’ll give.

For more information on joining Gurwin’s volunteer corps, contact our Volunteer Department at (631) 715-2555. We’ll be sure to make every volunteer experience one that brings a sense of satisfaction and pride to all.

Visit www.gurwin.org for information about our full continuum of healthcare services.