On Volunteering

Looking around our National Meetings one can’t help but notice a lot of white hair – or as in my case, none at all. What this seems to suggest about RWS members is not a lack of vibrancy, but a degree of control over how one spends his or her time. So for those of us who are retired, what do we do with all this time? I’ve heard it said, “now that I’ve retired, I have less time to myself than before”. I know – I’ve used this line myself. It’s not that we get up late and go to bed early, but rather we fill our time with things we enjoy doing. Things that make us feel good. So my question is this: Is there something that can make us feel good and at the same time allow us to ‘do good’? In my case, the answer is ‘volunteering’. There are many organizations where you can use your skills as a woodworker, an engineer, a tradesman or just the skills you’ve acquired over a lifetime of learning. I can’t list all of them, but I can cite a few with which I’ve had personal experience.

First, you need look no further than the organization on the letterhead of this newsletter. We need people to help select our speakers and run our workshops, work on our Showcase and sit on our Board. But if that’s not where your interests are, consider Habitat for Humanity. At Habitat, the skills you’ve acquired over a lifetime as a homeowner – carpentry, electrical, plumbing – will be put to good use building homes for those aspiring to improve their lives. Habitat also builds its own kitchen cabinets with volunteer workers. Another worthwhile endeavor is set building for local theater groups. While building sets may not be the same as building a Sam Maloof rocker, I guarantee you will reach the limit of your carpentry skills. My experience has been with the JCC on Edgewood Avenue, but I’m sure there are many similar groups around the area. Finally, let me mention St. Michael’s Woodshop located on St. Paul Street. SMW is an organization where inner city teens can interact with volunteer mentors to learn both woodworking and life skills. It may be simultaneously the most satisfying and the most frustrating, but it is definitely worth the effort.

I’m sure many of our members can suggest worthwhile organizations where they volunteer their time as well. So, if this appeals to you, ask your friends where they volunteer or feel free to contact me for more information. Send me an email if you know of a worthwhile organization that needs volunteers, and I’ll include it in the next Newsletter. Get involved!

David Sumberg