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Volunteering Creates the Community In Senior Living

December 28, 2021

“Those who bring sunshine to the lives of others cannot keep it from themselves.” — James Matthew Barrie

It’s not by chance that one of the first things people notice about Emerald Heights when they visit is how upbeat and friendly the residents are. How it seems as though everyone is smiling. How much — and how immediately — it feels like home.

While many places refer to the themselves as “senior living communities,” at Emerald Heights the emphasis is on “community” first. An enduring sense of community provides the foundation for the positive attitudes people notice among residents of Emerald Heights, whether they’re here for the first time or they visit all the time.

And what’s at the heart of that sense of community? The answer is easy: volunteerism.

Who Are The Volunteers Of Emerald Heights?

Many who live here were involved in volunteer activities before they arrived at Emerald Heights (and some are still involved in those same activities). Even more discovered the joy of volunteering after they got here.

Currently, there are 46 committees listed on the roster of the Emerald Heights Residents’ Association, according to Nancy Clancy, who serves as president of the association. They range from committees responsible for the upkeep of the hiking trail and the model railroad in the interior courtyard to a committee that collaborates with the management team on trips the residents take. They all consist entirely of volunteers.

And that doesn’t take into account many of the individual volunteer efforts residents participate in — like leading social activities, shelving books in the library or making toys in the woodshop to donate at Christmas. Nor does it include the volunteer activities residents engage in beyond Emerald Heights, such as tutoring at the local elementary schools or helping out at the hospital.

You’ll probably find almost as many volunteer opportunities at Emerald Heights as there are volunteers, and there’s a reason for that: Residents are encouraged to follow their passions.

Nancy said she tells others, “If there’s something you like to do and there isn’t an activity listed, start one.”

As a case in point, she noted that two residents discovered they share an interest in bonsai. Together, they sought other residents who might be interested as well. Now, there’s a bonsai club with roughly a dozen members.

Nancy Clancy: A Case Study In Volunteering At Emerald Heights

Nancy had been actively volunteering long before she and her husband, Dave, moved to our community. Her efforts then were focused on helping children — at various times by serving as a guardian ad litem, tutoring math to grade-school children and being involved with an organization in the Tucson area that provides new clothing for children in need.

After she and Dave moved to Emerald Heights and had a chance to settle in, Nancy was asked to be on the Fund Development Committee that raises money for an annual employee appreciation event. Every December, there’s a party attended by the residents and staff. At this gathering, the funds that have been raised are distributed equitably among all non-management employees based on the number of hours they’ve worked.

(Although it might sound odd at first that residents would collect funds for those who work at Emerald Heights, Nancy explained that tips and individual gifts to the staff are not permitted. So, the annual employee appreciation campaign is how residents show their thanks for everything the staff does for them throughout the year.)

The Fund Development Committee is also responsible for raising money for the Benevolence Fund through a dedicated donation effort.  Proceeds raised from the Coffee Shop, the Emerald Market, Thrift Shop and Furniture Store also go to the Benevolence Fund which was created

to assist residents who have outlived their resources.

These days, as we noted earlier, Nancy is the president of the Emerald Heights Residents’ Association.

“You start [volunteering], and it becomes your world,” she said.

Nancy encourages new residents to volunteer as a way to connect with their neighbors and make new friends.

“If you want to start meeting people, the best way to do it is either volunteer at the coffee shop or the Emerald Market,” she recommended.

Volunteering Is Good For Your Health

You may already know the good feeling you get when you volunteer your time and experience. You might also know that helping others adds satisfaction to your life. It turns out that volunteering helps you in other ways, too:

  • It’s good for your mental health because it keeps your brain active.
  • It keeps you more physically active than sitting at home.
  • It can reduce stress and lower your blood pressure.
  • It prevents feelings of isolation.
  • It contributes to your sense of purpose.
  • It builds camaraderie.
  • It’s fun!

Come See Our Friendly, Upbeat Community

We invite you to see for yourself what so many others have remarked about — the positive attitudes that are always on display at Emerald Heights.

We’d be delighted to show you around and tell you more about the lifestyle you can enjoy here, including the many opportunities available for volunteering. To arrange a time to visit, simply contact us.