Q: Tom, why did you decide to volunteer for the Council on Aging?
A: Well, I’ve been here for probably over 10 years. I decided to volunteer for the Council on Aging because I was a senior citizen, and I wanted to help. As a volunteer, I am learning more about myself and the Council on Aging organization.
Q: What was your initial role with the Council on Aging Meals on Wheels program?
A: I used to go to the senior center every day. I noticed that they didn’t have anybody to clean up after the drivers picked up their Meals-on-Wheels deliveries. So I asked Tammy, who was the manager at the time if I could take out the boxes that were left behind, and she said, “Oh, my, yes.” So, I started doing that every day. I felt welcomed and appreciated.
Q: So, initially, you volunteered because you were also a senior?
A: Well, when I first got to Bend, I signed on with the High Desert Museum. But then I noticed that other organizations were needing an extra hand. I found that it was good therapy for me to help people instead of organizations always helping me. I also discovered the importance of volunteering. And how it clears my head and teaches me how to reach out instead of just reaching in. It also gets me out of the house and sends me into a social situation where I’m appreciated. And it’s like mental exercise. My mind stays clear, and I don’t feel isolated.
Q: How does volunteering for the Council on Aging make you feel?
A: Well, it makes me feel wonderful. Because I have a home to come to. And I remember going to interview with the head guy, and he says to me, “Why are you here, Tom?” And I said, well, I want to know people. And he said, well, what we’re going to teach you here is that you’ve come here to help yourself. First, you’re going to learn how to open your heart. And I’ve learned that that’s true. It’s absolutely true.