Finding inspiration from volunteering

“As you grow old, you will discover you have two hands. One for helping yourself, the other for helping others” Audrey Hepburn

I have long been inspired by helping others. Friends, family members, strangers in the street. The help may be as significant as taking someone to a medical appointment or it may be simple as letting them in front of you in the supermarket queue.

Eleven years ago I decided to be a volunteer for my local library service. This work is not just about helping others, it is also rewarding and has allowed me to meet some inspirational people.  Once every three weeks I deliver library books to older members of the community who are unable to get to the public library. Some of these people, through their attitude to life, have inspired me and my attitudes.

One of my first clients was a lovely, elderly lady living in her own home. When she was in her 70’s she decided to go back to university to get her masters. That in itself is inspirational.  She then went on in her 80’s to be a volunteer English tutor at her local primary school. The half a day a week that she gave to her school and my regular visit helped her cope with her cancer treatments. It was inspirational to know that despite having a terminal illness she was able to find a way to make the most of her life. Reading, for her own pleasure and advancements,  as well as helping others to read. Inspirational.

One of my current clients is a lady of 101 years of age. Her smiling face, her memory recall and attitude to life are inspirational. I was invited to her 100th birthday party, a great afternoon with music supplied by the Police Pipe Band.  Her smile and happiness on that day were infectious. Now at 101 she is slowing down a little but still has time for a chat and her lovely smile still lights up her face. Most of us worry about getting old but she embraces her age in an inspirational way.

As we progress through our lives it is important to remember that we can influence where our life leads us. As Audrey Hepburn said, we have two hands, one to help ourselves, the other to help others. Be inspired to be helpful and be an inspiration to others so that they may also want to be helpful.

 

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