“Think of retirement as the opportunity to discover parts of yourself that you didn’t get to explore during your career,” says Julie Strassman, Volunteer Coordinator and Bereavement Assistant with Bethesda Hospice Care.
“After you have finished your career, ask yourself what you are passionate about, and how do you want to spend the time you have now,” she says.
Studies show that people who volunteer live longer, healthier lives, feel better about themselves, and are less likely to feel depressed or isolated.
Julie notes her Bethesda Hospice Care volunteers are more socially connected with others and have a greater sense of purpose. “Everyone wants to feel that they are contributing to the greater good of the world, and volunteering is a perfect way to do that,” she says. “I’ve had volunteers tell me their lives are fuller now than when they were working.”
The main purpose of hospice volunteers is to provide companionship for hospice patients. Whether the activity involves sitting and reminiscing with a patient about their lives, playing music for them, reading or praying, the purpose is to make a connection with the hospice patient through emotional, social or spiritual support.
The benefits work both ways. “Our volunteers talk about how they love hearing life stories,” Julie says. “The opportunity to support people at the end of life is deeply meaningful to them as well as the hospice patient.”
The Difference Between Working and Volunteering
Many people work because they have to. Julie points out that if you are part of a team of volunteers, everyone you are volunteering with wants to be there. “It’s something they are passionate about,” she says. “They want to do something to make a difference, and it’s not just about filling time in their day. This makes for a very positive experience that bonds people together.”
Volunteering at Bethesda
There are plenty of volunteer opportunities at Bethesda for residents and people of all ages who are not Bethesda residents. Each Bethesda skilled nursing community has its own specific volunteer programs, which include tasks such as:
- Assisting with life-enrichment activities
- Helping residents and guests at a community gift shop
- Assisting with church services
- Providing live music
- Organizing donation drives
- Helping to plan events
- Reading to residents
There are also volunteer opportunities with the Auxiliaries, such as helping with events and fundraisers. “With a large organization like Bethesda, there is a wide variety of volunteer opportunities from which to choose,” says Julie.
At Bethesda, residents and employees are dedicated to volunteering. If you’re interested in making a difference in the life of a senior, there are plenty of volunteer opportunities available at our skilled nursing or senior living communities.
Ready to make a difference? Become a Bethesda Volunteer today.