downtown Seattle

Positive community activism

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Seattle Profile – Volunteering and Civic Life in America.

The Seattle Times newspaper posted an article touting Seattle’s stellar volunteer rate for 2013:

34% of Seattle area residents volunteer ranking Seattle 4th among the 51 largest volunteer locations.  After researching that article, I found the attached report detailing my area’s community service activities.  You can locate your State and city in the report to discern the degree of your community’s civic life.

Community hands together to volunteerThis report shines a light on content that I recently provided in two articles posted to this blog:  Restless in retirement? You don’t have to be, and The importance of good neighbors.

38.7 percent of Washington State’s Baby Boomer population volunteered in 2013, ranking my state’s volunteering Baby Boomers 6th out of 51.  See?  You’ll be in good company when you turn your retirement restlessness into service for others.

64.9 percent of Washington State residents participate in “informal volunteer activities” defined as doing favors for neighbors.  Wow, that’s a lot of people getting to know their neighbors and “having their backs.”

You don’t have to give up all of your free time to help others.

Community and the world volunteeringI’ve heard people say time and again that they can’t spare another 40 hours a week to become a volunteer.  Who asked you to?

There are countless volunteer opportunities that only require a couple hours a week.  My best friend volunteers as a companion to a disabled person who needs transportation assistance to shop and/or to attend doctor appointments.  A fellow Bar Method exerciser volunteers once a week at a local food bank to provide much needed sustenance to those in her community.  Wow, such a small commitment of time that provides a service for which others cannot do without.

Thank about it: if you spent two or three less hours a week watching television, or two or three less hours working on home projects, or two or three less hours sitting at the computer (point taken), you’ll still have oodles of free time left after spending a fraction of your week focused on someone else.

Wow, when put that way, volunteering sure sounds easy, doesn’t it? And here’s a resource that will help direct you to volunteering and other worthwhile community involvement: Sixty and Me.

(All images courtesy of Pixabay)

Trust your gut!

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We all have been granted a certain amount of intuition which sometimes tells us to do something and sometimes tells us not to do something.  A brief definition of intuition is “immediate apprehension or cognition.”  That’s exactly what happened to me today.  The following is a success story in trusting my gut.  This story is being told to encourage you to do the same thing – it’s not a story about me.

My husband had an errand to run today.  He wanted to go to the local Woodcraft store just south of downtown Seattle.  Sometimes he asks me to join him on these 100% man-errands and sometimes he doesn’t.  Today he did ask me if I wanted to go with him and even though I felt rather tired, I gladly decided to keep him company.  That’s the first step towards my gut being involved.

We live in a very rural part of a Seattle suburb and half the time we drive down Union Hill Road, and the other half of the time we take Redmond-Fall City Road.  Today we chose Union Hill Road.  That’s the second step towards my gut being involved.

At the top of Union Hill Road I noticed an elderly man walking along the side of the road (no sidewalks in this rural area) with something grasped to his stomach in front of him.  It seemed odd that this elderly man would be walking along this road but not 100% odd – but I made note of it.

Two hours elapsed etween that incident and our return trip back up Union Hill Road.  Approximately four miles from where we first observed the elderly gentleman 2 hours earlier that same elderly gentleman was on the side of the road, sitting on a boulder, holding a canvas bag in front of him.  My husband drove past him and when we did I said, “That’s the fellow we saw two hours ago at the top of the hill!”  We continued to drive up the hill and my gut was going berserk telling me to do something – that what I saw was not good.  I finally said, “Honey, you need to turn the car around, I don’t feel right leaving that man behind.  He’s been on the road for two hours and in this heat, he probably hasn’t even had a sip of water.”

We drove back down the road and only I got out of the car, not wanting to frighten the man by having two strangers, one of them male, approach him out of the blue.  I said, “Hello” while I was still a few feet away so that I didn’t startle him and he could see me walking towards him.  I crouched down to his level and asked him if he is okay.  He thanked me and told me he was fine.  I persisted.  “My husband and I saw you taking a walk two hours ago on this same road and I’m concerned that perhaps you might be tired, or perhaps lost?”

He told me he planned to walk into our suburban town’s downtown area which would have involved a very dangerous twisty road in which walking and cycling are not the safest mode of transportation.  I told him it wasn’t safe to walk the remainder of the road downtown.  “I am visiting from China and staying with my daughter.  I was hoping to find public transportation to get me downtown.”  I explained that in this rural area there is no public transportation.  I offered him my bottle of water, having cleaned off the spout prior to even getting out of our vehicle.  He thanked me and patted his canvas bag indicating that he had some.

“I am resting because my foot hurts.  I had hoped I would get public transportation downtown.”  “It sounds as though perhaps you should go back to your daughter’s house but that’s several miles away from here.  If we took you in our car, would you be able to tell us where your daughter’s house is located?”

He then pulled a piece of paper out of his pocket that had both English and Chinese writing on it.  “This is my address.  This is my daughter’s phone number.”  “Shall I call her and ask her to pick you up?  Is that what you would like me to do?”  “Yes, please.  You see I was hoping to find public transportation to take me downtown.”  (I was beginning to see a repetitive pattern of conversation here.)

I went back to my car and called his daughter while he continued to rest on the boulder.  I told her my name and that I was with her father and that it appeared he had been walking for some time and he would like her to pick him up.  I wanted to make sure that the daughter came quickly so I told her I would wait with her father until she arrived.  Fifteen minutes later, she pulled up with her mother, and both were extremely glad to have been reunited with the elderly gentleman.  Gut trusted, a happy ending ensued.

I know you’re all wondering why the daughter hadn’t gone out in search of her father since at least two hours had transpired since he left the house.  I don’t have an answer to that query, but I’m glad that:

  • my husband asked me to accompany him on his errand;
  • I gladly agreed to go;
  • we drove down Union Hill Road;
  • we saw the elderly man walking down Union Hill Road;
  • we saw the elderly man sitting down on the side of the road as we drove up Union Hill Road;
  • and I didn’t shut out the shouting of my gut instinct to check on the elderly man.

I also know you’re imagining all the horrible outcomes that could have happened instead of the good outcome that did transpire.  Me too!

But the good news is: no bad stuff happened because I trusted my gut.