Donahue is a volunteer for The Senior Source (TSS) of Greater Dallas, a
partner agency that helps seniors serve their communities. In this capacity, she regularly talks to groups about the services offered by the Homeland Security Initiative, an offshoot of TSS’s Retired and Senior Volunteer Program.
In the aftermath of 9-11, the program’s premise has been to replace fear with knowledge. Volunteer seniors like Donahue talk to people about what steps they can take in an emergency situation, before first-team responders — police, fire emergency and medical teams — arrive at the scene. She talks about simple things, such as what to do when the power goes out or gas lines shut down at home.
“You’d be surprised how many people don’t know what to do,” says Donahue, a retired English teacher.
What Donahue is doing is important work. Not only is she helping others — she’s helping herself, says Dr. James Ikemba, associate medical director at Baylor Fair Park Center, who adds that senior citizens profit both physically and psychologically by helping others.
“Seniors get out of the house by volunteering,” he says. “I’m for anything that increases activity, builds up strength and is great for the muscles, especially when it’s also good for the heart.”
And there are a variety of ways in which seniors can volunteer. Organizations like The Senior Source and The Volunteer Center or
Other volunteer opportunities exist with The Shepherd Centers of
Through her position as publicity chairman for The Shepherd Center of North Dallas, Estelle Baron helps recruit new senior volunteers. In her position, she’s in contact with widowers who have difficulty with their sudden aloneness. Volunteering, she adds, can make going home to an empty house easier, particularly because it can form lasting friendships.
“You wouldn’t believe how much fun we have,” she says of the seniors involved in the volunteer programs.
And if fun and companionship weren’t motivation enough to do it, there’s another reason seniors should consider volunteering, Donahue says.
“There’s a lot us seniors can give back,” she says. “After all, we’ve been through a lot.”