“You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.” - George Burns
This must be their credo, I thought to myself - as I arrived early one evening to help the Broome County Office for Aging.
When I say early – I mean early.
I was at least a half-hour ahead of schedule; yet - I walked into a building that was already teeming with people. . .and an infectious spirit. What I thought might be a sleepy, fundraiser dinner for the annual Senior Games – presented more as a gigantic family gathering. . .you know – like a super fun one.
It seemed as if the whole of Broome was already present. . .say nothin’ about the 300 or so meals we later served to ticket-holding supporters.
So - I’d barely made my way past the door when I was approached by both Sarah and Rita – two full-time employees at the Office. Though much younger than the population they serve - these women love what they do so much - that they happily volunteered for this, the longest of days. The chores were almost never-ending; and though I can’t say I had the opportunity to ‘grill’ either of them with too many personal questions (as I so love to do) – I can tell ya a few things. . .
They were both sweet as can be. I could feel it in the way they welcomed me.
They set the example for compassion. I could see this - by how they treated everyone.
And they were slaving away in a hot kitchen – on their own time.
Yes. Can you imagine working a whole day – in a capacity where you already help others – only to put in a busy night - still engaged in the mission - simply because you believe in it?
Thank you, Sarah and Rita – for inspiring me to ‘up my game’.
But it wasn’t just a two-woman show. Countless Senior volunteers – all beneficiaries of the office – showed up to lend a hand and spread some joy. They’re no strangers to these events, I’m told; they believe in the power of this program from both sides of engagement. They were there – for community and with it. And they were having a ton of fun. So much, in fact, that - though I was low on energy after a hectic night - they all seemed to skip out the door. . .
As I took notice of that, I realized that my journey had proven once again – there’s a symbiosis that can be found - in our own backyards. . .
A connection there. . .
A meaning. . .
Oh yeah – and a very tangible energy, as I described earlier.
Dare I liken this experience to a ‘fountain of youth’? I’m not sure that giving back is the only secret to feeling young, but as my buddy George might suggest - and my new friends would prove:
It sure won’t make you get old.