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Archive for Sunday, May 2, 1999

S GIVING BACK

May 2, 1999

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Senior citizens from across Douglas County are enjoying retirement by giving their time to agencies, organizations and clubs.

For some Lawrence senior citizens, retirement doesn't mean retiring.

"I don't believe I could ever just stay in this house," said Frank Day, 65, one of many seniors who stay active by volunteering in the community.

Today a group of seniors, including Day, is being thanked for their commitment to spending their golden years involved in volunteer endeavors.

Douglas County Senior Services is honoring 24 "Super Seniors" at 2 p.m. with a reception at the Lawrence Senior Center.

"Seniors do have time, and many of them choose to use it to volunteer," Genevieve Remus with Senior Services said. "Most people that are retired aren't really. They stay healthier that way."

Senior citizens may volunteer to give something back, to stay involved or even just because they finally have the time. They work for volunteer organizations, churches and clubs.

"Seniors play a major role in volunteering in the county," Wendy Marshall, director of the Roger Hill Volunteer Center, said. "They're involved in all our agencies."

Reading for those who can't

Day spends several hours a week reading for the Kansas Audio-Reader Network, a broadcast service for people who are blind or otherwise visually impaired.

"For the past 15 blessed years, on Wednesdays usually, I go to Audio-Reader and for two hours I read newspapers from eastern Kansas," he said. "It makes me feel better that I can do something."

He is a popular reader; Audio-Reader workers say Day's voice reflects warmth and humor.

"If I read something that's funny, I laugh," he said. "I editorialize something fierce; they don't like that too much."

Volunteering gives people like Day a chance to get out of the house.

"It gives folks a chance to connect with the community," Marshall said.

Interacting with others

An interest in her own health led Sara Woods, 65, to the Lawrence PATH Coalition. She took an eight-week course on exercise for the elderly; now she teaches it.

"Most of these people have never really exercised," she said. "I think it's very beneficial."

Getting fellow senior citizens in better shape is not all Woods does. She also volunteers at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and helps keep track of two of her grandsons. For her, volunteering is a way to stay involved and stave off boredom.

"Your world becomes very small if don't get out," she said.

People also volunteer to contribute, to do their part.

"Volunteering gives them an opportunity to give back to their community," Marshall said.

Finally having the time

Marjorie Haney, 69, said she always wanted to volunteer, but when she was working she didn't have time.

Now she works with Hospice Care in Douglas County. She said she does everything from mopping floors to doing dishes. Some families she helps for months, others only once. She volunteers, she said, "to give the family some respite."

"The last time I went, I just sat with a gentleman so his family could go see Bishop (Desmond) Tutu," she said.

Though many may see volunteering for Hospice as an emotionally trying task, she said it isn't hard for her.

"I thought I could contribute," Haney said.

She also volunteers for the hospital auxiliary and for the Audio-Reader Network.

"It makes me feel good," she said. "All the years I worked, I couldn't do any of these things. ... I think I owe it."

Keeping busy

Retirement came as a shock for Edwin Bracken, 73. He wasn't quite sure what to do with himself.

"I'd never contemplated retirement," he said. These days, he said, he does "nothing as often as possible," but he devotes a lot of his time to the Douglas County chapter of the American Association of Retired Persons. He plans and escorts trips and has been an assistant treasurer and publisher of the local newsletter.

When asked why he volunteers, he said, "They won't pay you for it.

"Somebody needs something, you do it."

It's important to enjoy yourself, Bracken added.

"If you don't have a good time, you better start hunting. You got to have fun," he said.

Also being honored are Ken Badger, Douglas County Emergency Management; Phyllis Ballew, Douglas County Visiting Nurses Assn.; Norma Osborne, Babcock Tenants' Assn.; Juanita Riley, Vermont Towers Resident Council; Mary Plank, Evangeline Chapter of the Order of Eastern Star; Esther Lavina Messer, Friendship Rebekah Lodge; Louise Everly, Minerva Rebekah Lodge No. 146 of Eudora; Betty Ryan, Golden Age Club; Helen Hildenbrand, The Golden Rod Club; Betty Dutton, the Kaw Valley Chapter of the Older Women's League; Arnold Weiss, Kansas University Retirees Club; Stanley House, National Association of Retired Federal Employees; Mary Margaret Williams, Now or Never Club of the Baldwin City Senior Center; Lila Swanner, OURS Dance Group; Marty Smith, Douglas County CASA Inc.; Paul and Harriet Wilson, Friends of the Lawrence Public Library; Ruth Barnes, Interfaith Caring Neighbors; Ned Cushing, Lawrence Rotary Club; and Jane A. Johnson, Soroptimists International of Lawrence.

-- Felicia Haynes' phone message number is 832-7173. Her e-mail address is fhaynes@ljworld.com.

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