Why I volunteer

Saturday, Oct. 24 is Make a Difference Day. Make a Difference Day is the largest, single day of volunteering in the country where individuals are encouraged to reach out and help others who may be in need. Macomb County has many amazing volunteers that help make a difference every day. Below is a blog written by one such individual. For more information on Make A Difference Day, visit www.makeadifferenceday.com.

Why I volunteerVolunteering started out for me simply as an item on my employer’s work summary. I worked at AT&T, and they strongly suggested doing volunteer work in your community. At first, I started out helping a children’s home during the holidays, then it was buying and filling backpacks for needy children in the Mount Clemens school district. When delivering the backpacks, the principal told me about how some of the children didn’t even have a good pair of shoes to wear to school. After hearing that, I raised enough money so the children could get a gift card to Payless to pick out a new pair or two of shoes.

I began looking for something to do that would get me more involved in the community. A few ladies at work were doing Meals on Wheels and had asked me to fill in if one of them were not able to do it on her day. That started back in 2010.

When I retired in 2011, I took on a route of my own and talked my husband into joining me. Since then, I have been doing a route twice a month, coordinating and doing the emergency boxes whenever I can. I get such joy when I deliver lunch to an elderly person and they thank me and start talking about their lives and families.

Why I volunteer 2One time, I took my granddaughter with me when I was delivering the emergency boxes. I was given a new route so I did not know any of the people. We went up to a door, and an elderly lady came to the door. She said she was so glad that we came back, she gave us each a hug and thanked us so much for coming to see her and thanked us so much for her package. I feel it is very important to show the younger generation that we need to help our elderly and be there for them.

The people on my route have become family to me. They talk to me every time I deliver lunch. They tell me about their sick family members, events in their lives (one had a 90th birthday party), or their hobbies. They just need to see another human being and have someone to talk to.

My parents were getting up in age, both in their 80s, and they applied for the Meals on Wheels program, and they were accepted. I was so very glad to know that they were getting a warm meal and a well-balanced one at that. It just happened that a few of my coworkers were the ones that delivered lunch to my parents.

I feel that by volunteering, I am making a difference in the lives of the people on my route. They have someone to look forward to seeing every day, they are getting a hot meal –  they have someone who cares. I know that for some of my Meals on Wheels “family,” I am the only one they see or talk to.

I enjoy giving to people. It gives me a warm feeling and makes me feel like Santa Claus. The smiles on the faces of my Meals on Wheels family is worth a thousand dollars, and I am very lucky to receive it.

For information on volunteering, call the Macomb County Office of Senior Services at (586) 469-5228. Linda Swack is a St. Clair Shores resident who has been volunteering for Meals on Wheels in Macomb County since 2011.

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