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Stepping Up

October 7, 2022

Another Way for week of September 30, 2022

Stepping Up

Verna, a great storyteller and enthusiastic leader of the local Valley Girls Red Hat Society, had a handful of us gathered around her as we waited for our water exercise class to begin.

She recalled missing out on the very first meeting of the Red Hat Society, but went to the second one. “I wanted to join, but with the intention of just being there.” She certainly didn’t have in mind volunteering to help with major events and projects since her goal was just to “be” in the club.

“Then they brought up that they planned to participate in a local parade as a club, but needed a red truck,” Verna recalled, (to go with great red hats of course). Verna rolled her eyes and kind of squinted at us. “I said to myself, I’m not saying anything. I’m not saying anything,” she repeated.

But the club members kept talking and no one seemed to have a red truck in that group. So yes, Verna finally opened her mouth, kind of mumbling that she and her husband had a red truck. And yes, she could drive it. She shrugged her shoulders. Oh well.

Then someone said they’d need a trailer to pull behind the truck. Verna sighed inwardly, and kept quiet again until she finally admitted they had a trailer that was red. So of course, Verna had to help decorate the truck and trailer. Beautifully, she added. With plenty of red and purple hats on it, of course.

The club was all set for the parade but the next day our area woke up to snow. The parade was called off. Of course Verna had to help un-decorate it. She said eventually, they had the parade and all had a great time. In spite of wanting to stay quiet, she is always up for a new adventure.

As we age into retirement, many of us would prefer a back seat and just go along for the ride. But volunteers are needed in so many places and ways. Groups at church need helpers for just about any project they undertake or assist with, such as “Backpack Programs” which provide food for children in homes where they may not get very nutritious meals on weekends or other times.

Volunteers enjoy serving their annual Lion’s Club pancake breakfast.

I still remember how stunned I was 20 years ago talking to a local high school class on the topic of eating together as a family. I asked a simple question, “Who does the cooking in your family?” Their responses were mostly along the lines of “it’s each one for himself or herself,” they claimed, and I believed it. Many had afterschool jobs or parents who worked late into the evening.

Some churches offer food pantries or clothes closets—a great way to not only help with a need, but to meet members of the community who might have special needs. Other volunteer opportunities: helping at Thrift shops, reading to those who can no longer see very well, volunteer receptionists at hospitals, retirement centers, and nursing homes.

Residents in nursing homes or their own homes almost always enjoy visitors, especially from children!

Scout leaders can use help—even if you no longer have children that age—in leading troops, events or helping out with activities.

Kids need help from adults as they learn and participate in various sports.

Which reminds me that so many civic clubs are aging out—and need new blood and younger participants. Some nonprofit agencies and organizations also need office helpers or those who are willing to help with one or two day projects—along with long term regular volunteers. Plus, there are always older folks who need rides to church, events, or the doctor— so drivers are in much demand.

Providing transportation makes it possible for older folks to enjoy small group study and fellowship.

My husband is quick to step up to help repair homes that have been devastated by flooding, hurricanes, or tornadoes. But he has also volunteered as a Big Brother, and as a buddy for children at a day camp for children on the autism spectrum.

As retirees, we often use the worn out phrase “give back” for all the opportunities we’ve been given. Ironically, giving back often succeeds in giving us more blessings than we can count. Amazing, isn’t it?


What volunteer opportunities have I forgotten here?

What are your favorite ways to “step up”?

Your stories or experiences? Send to or Another Way Media, P.O. Box 363, Singers Glen, VA 22834.

Another Way is a column by Melodie Davis, in syndication since 1987. She is the author of ten books. Another Way columns are posted at a week after newspaper publication.  

  1. For many years, I volunteered in the pre-school department at my church. It served as a kind of counter-balance to the young adults I taught at the College. Now my volunteering is more subtle: Sending cards and text messages to those who could use a lift: the discouraged, the bereaved, and sometimes, birthday cheer.

    My sister just became a member of the Red Hat Society in northern Pennsylvania. Your post is a reminder to ask her about her experience so far. I believe you are publishing early this week because of Homecoming at EMU. How I wish I could join you. 😀

    • Hey, I thought about you at the homecoming author table … and wished you were here too. I didn’t get to participate on Sat. which was ok, we had promised to help out recently-moved daughter and husband with some needed projects at their new abode (volunteer theme here!) and it was the only Sat. in October we had mutually available. We had a wonderful day though and I like your reference to how the preschoolers were helpful in balancing your work and contacts with the college kids!!

      Our Reaching Out house church (small group) also now focuses on the kind of reaching out that you describe: cards, phone calls, emails, texts. A couple of us younger ones do help provide transportation for our get togethers for those who can no longer drive. I’d be interested in hearing about your sister’s Red Hat group. I would love to join but Lions Club is enough for me in terms of clubs and the financial end.

      Have a beautiful Sunday. We had our first frost overnight. Like someone else said, the cold weather is welcome for getting bugs back in the ground. (They used different language.) 🙂

  2. Thanks for the update, Melodie! 😀

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