We have approached the great time of year when we get to celebrate our volunteers. National Volunteer Week, the biggest celebration of volunteers and volunteerism in our country, is coming.  The 2010 campaign lands on the week of April 18-24, and the theme is “Compassion to Action.”   

I have been out of the office for the past three months because of illness and was able to go to the Mayo Clinic for diagnosis. While there, I had the opportunity to meet a “young” man by the name of Bob who, at the age of 81, volunteered in the cafeteria helping those who needed assistance carrying their trays, or pushing wheelchairs.

He and his wife had moved from California to Rochester, Minn. to be closer to their children. While there, he decided he had to keep busy, so to occupy his time, he volunteered and loved what he did.  What a joy to visit with him and have him tell his story about the joy of volunteering. 

Take the time this National Volunteer Week to recognize the 12.5 million volunteers nationwide by saying thank you. In the last year, they gave 2.1 billion hours of their time, energy and skills to the benefit of our community services, shelters, hospitals, sports teams, environment, political movements, disaster relief, international aid and development agencies and arts and culture scene to name a few. They are the selfless individuals who demonstrate their genuine compassion for the well being of others and in support of essential causes, by taking action and by making a difference.

Maybe you can’t be a volunteer at the Mayo Clinic, but you can volunteer at any of the 42 stations here in the four county area doing a number of different things.  I always tell a new volunteer when they sign up that volunteering keeps them younger and healthier because they help someone else have an easier day. If you are interested in signing up to be a new volunteer, come into the Area Agency on Aging office in Joplin and let me tell you what is available and all the benefits that come along with being an RSVP volunteer.  Our address is 531 E. 15th Street and our number is 417-781-7562.

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