Everyone Needs Purpose in Life

My father worked until age 83 at a job he enjoyed. He would still be there if his heart hadn’t given out and retirement was forced on him. It was his third or fourth career.

I learned a lot from my father once he was finally retired. One of the things was that everyone, no matter how old or weak, needs a purpose for living.

This became clear to me when dad was recovering in the nursing home. One of the local chapters of a national charity asked if any one in the home would volunteer to put donation request letters in envelopes. My father jumped at the chance even though it was for no pay. I sat with him helping with this task. The day room was filled with the happy chatter of people as they worked together for this good cause.

After the work was finished the organization gave a thank you party for all those who volunteered. They presented award pins. My father wore his proudly. They talked about that event for months and looked forward to the next time they’d be asked to volunteer. It all has to do with purpose.

My Aunt has her second pacemaker and is near 90. Three days a week she takes a bus to the nearby hospital, not for doctor visits, but to help poor people obtain medical care. She understands both Italian and Spanish. They come to her from all walks of life, young and old. She sits with them, listens to their problems and writes up their needs. Then she fills out the forms for those who can’t write, or explains them to those who can write. People who might die without medical care are given the services they need thanks to my aunt’s volunteer work.

Unfortunately, too many seniors no longer have a sense of purpose. They join the local Senior Center, participate in activities, but don’t really feel needed.

Here are a few suggestions for those who are retired and want to put more purpose into their lives:

Volunteer at your church
There are many jobs that need to be done by volunteers, including visiting other elderly who are shut-ins.

Visit with the principal of your local elementary school
Volunteer as a room “Grandmother” or to work with children with special needs. Some schools have after-school programs where neighborhood volunteers volunteer their time to share a hobby with the kids, help with homework, or read stories.

Charity Organizations
Local chapters of the Red Cross, Cancer Society, and others use volunteers to mail letters, answer the phone, work on publicity programs and do other jobs. If you are an able drive these organizations set up volunteers to drive patients to their treatments.

Senior Centers
If you are member of a Senior Center you will find there are many opportunities to volunteer, especially for fund raising activities and for classes.

Day Care
Day care and after school programs would welcome the help of a friendly grandparent to read to the children or lay table games.

Soup Kitchens
Local church groups who operate soup kitchens rely on volunteers to cook and serve the meals. If you enjoy food preparation this would be an area for you.

If you can write or type there is an important opportunity for you to share your life with others. How? By arranging to write letters about your life to school children. This can be done by phone to your elementary school. Ask for a third grade teacher to call you and suggest the letter writing project.

I am familiar with such a program. My father participated and enjoyed the wonderful questions the children asked him. He dictated the answers to me.

It brought big smiles to his face to know how much it meant to the children to learn history from someone who experienced it. The photos and drawings the children sent him were taped to the walls of his den.

There are many other ways to put back purpose in your life. You just have to find what would make you happy and then do it.

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