Volunteering at a Senior Center with Pets

The Power of Volunteerism

Volunteering is such a pure and selfless act, and all generations can benefit from it. For older adults especially, volunteerism is a great form of enrichment and social engagement. Its value is two-fold: while helping others you can simultaneously improve your own physical, mental, and social well-being. Multiple studies reveal that retirement-age individuals who volunteer find it easier to stave off depression, isolation and boredom. Plus, time and time again you hear volunteers say, “I thought I was doing something helpful for someone else, but I feel just as rewarded by helping others.”

For Messiah Lifeways, volunteerism is a quintessential part of our mission and foundation. There are nearly 450 active volunteers ranging from 13 to 97 years old. And the average age of volunteers is 74 years young, which emphasizes the significance and value of volunteering no matter what your age.

Lois Hutchison, Director of Volunteers at Messiah Lifeways, states, “Older volunteers in particular want to give back by helping others.” They have a great appreciation for volunteerism and enjoy staying actively engaged by making a difference in the lives of others.” She also added that “many family members come back to the Village to volunteer, even though their loved one has passed away. They feel a connection and want to give back to the place that meant so much to their parent or spouse.”

Many volunteers live at Messiah Village and are eager to help in any way. Aside from traditional duties like passing water pitchers, volunteers at Messiah Village can do out of the ordinary tasks, such as driving the on campus shuttle or helping run the gift or coffee shops. Others help by showcasing their talents playing a musical instrument or by bringing their furry friends in for pet therapy.

In the most recent edition of the Messiah Lifeways Preview Guide, Messiah Lifeways volunteer Kathy Eshbach, along with her dog Bentley, was asked what volunteering meant to her.

“Volunteering at Messiah Lifeways strengthens my perspective on what’s truly valuable in life, and I’m grateful for the opportunities to learn from the residents we meet. I enjoy being part of a profound mission that needs and speaks the love of Christ.

Visiting each neighborhood allows us to build friendships and strike up conversations about our similar love for dogs; it’s quite common for residents to reminisce about their pets. While chatting with the residents, the generational differences disappear, and commonalities are discovered. Bentley’s lovable and curious demeanor quickly spawns smiles and loving pats from his acquaintances. It’s rewarding to watch Bentley’s unique way of eliciting positive distractions as he greets and seeks attention. I always leave enriched by the joy I receive through volunteering with Bentley.”

To find out more about volunteer opportunities and how you can make a difference at Messiah Lifeways, call Lois Hutchison at 717.790.8203.

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matthew J. Gallardo

Matt is the Director of Community Engagement and Coaching at Messiah Lifeways. He brings nearly 20 years of experience in counseling, advocating, and guiding older adults and caregivers through many of life’s tough decisions. His diverse background of working in hospital and rehabilitation settings, community services, and senior housing gives him the breadth and depth of knowledge to provide unique solutions, opportunities, and help individuals proactively plan for the future. He serves as the Lifeways Coach and as a writer, blogger, podcaster, and speaker for Messiah Lifeways, located in Mechanicsburg, PA.

Enhanced Living (Personal Care) at Messiah Village

Inpatient and Outpatient Rehab at Messiah Village