Volunteering Keeping Retirees Healthier, Happier

Monday, February 7th 2011, 6:11 pm
By: News 9

Kirsten McIntyre, News 9

OKLAHOMA CITY -- When setting out on the great adventure of retirement, many people plan on traveling and enjoying their free time, but retirement also brings a lot of changes and for some, they feel a loss of direction.

Alice Ebert has been crocheting since she was 17 years old.

"It's so relaxing for one thing. Get your mind off of everything else," Ebert said.

Once a week, Ebert comes to the Integris Cancer Institute where she knits lap robes for patients undergoing cancer treatment.

"I'm a cancer survivor, it's a way to pay forward. And I could never pay back all the people that have supported me, but I can pay it forward to those going through it," Ebert said.

Ebert is joined by other volunteers who also enjoy giving back. With each stitch, Mina Nail said she prays for those needing the blankets.

"That it will be a blessing to someone. The one who receives it that it will give them comfort and strength and they'll enjoy looking at the pretty colors," Nail said.

Yet, the volunteers aren't just helping others, they're helping themselves.

"Statistically we see that most people that elect to volunteer will live a healthier life. They'll live a longer life, and I think because it takes a lot of that focus outside of yourself and you're thinking about what you can do for others," said Daisy McNeill, Integris Health metro director.

Dr. Stewart Beasley is a counseling psychologist. He said volunteering is a way to fight off depression after retirement.

"Gives them a reason to get out of bed in the morning and go to life instead of going to work," Beasley said.

For the volunteers, their handiwork is good medicine, not only for cancer patients, but for themselves.

"I feel good making something that would give someone else pleasure. It really helps my spirits as well," Nail said.

The stitching group is always looking for more volunteers. To find out how you can get involved, just call Integris.

Or find out other volunteer opportunities in your community.