Kay's Story | February 2019
In April of 2017, after 28 years with the same employer, I found myself out of a job. The company consolidated the functions of my department into another office and several long-term employees were suddenly unemployed. At 64 years old, this was scary for me, a single homeowner with no family in the immediate area. We knew about the reorganization many months in advance, which gave me time to get my personal affairs in order and I was able to face the life change with confidence that I’d be “OK” financially. I educated myself on extending benefits, Medicare, Social Security, unemployment compensation, everything I’d need to know going into retirement. Being the manager of the effected department, my focus was on supporting my staff members – I helped with resumes, job searches, and insurance navigation. I decided that when our positions were completely dissolved into the other department, I wasn’t going to work anymore.
Emotionally spent, I had a minor surgery, recovered, caught up on all the yard work and projects that had been “put off until tomorrow,” and in early May it hit me that I didn’t know what to do with myself. I had concentrated on life essentials for myself and others for several months but had given no thought to how I’d stay connected to people or amuse myself with no job to get up for every day. I had been needed all my life by kids and with my job, and suddenly that was gone. All my friends were still working, so I felt isolated.
That’s when the Moreau Community Center came into my life. A friend invited me to go to MCC one Wednesday afternoon to play Sudoku with the small group of seniors. Once there, she introduced me to some staff members and I happened to see a volunteer signup sheet for the upcoming Garage Sale. I signed up to help, and the rest, is as they say, is history. I couldn’t get enough, and soon the skills I’d honed over a lengthy career found a new home at the Center. By the end of December, all customer account balances had been reviewed for the past 20 years. At the same time, I continued to mail newsletters, help with the Holiday Sharing and community yard cleanup projects. I also volunteered to work the kitchen for bingo at St. Michaels’ Church on a regular basis, and I became a trained VITA tax assistant and a trained AARP Defensive Driver Course instructor. Not a single event passed without being thanked for my involvement. At the end of the year I was spotlighted as the Center’s volunteer for the second half of 2017. Wow, what an honor!
So, how do I put into a few words what MCC means to me?
I started coming to the center for companionship and activities. I kept coming back because the staff and other volunteers made me feel so welcome and appreciated. I was being nurtured and nurturing others at the same time. Volunteering at the Center gives me the flexibility to spend as much or as little time there as I want. It makes me feel needed and gives me a purpose that I lost when I stopped working. I have made several new friends among the seniors, and board members, as well as knowing all the staff. Becoming a board member stepped up my contributions to a strategic level, while I still enjoy the day to day opportunities to contribute. I continue to show up for books, newsletters, special events, bingo, taxes, driver safety, Sudoku and anything else I’m asked or see a need for.
I have said all my adult life that I just want to feel as though I’ve made a difference. I don’t need constant recognition or monetary rewards. Being a part of the Moreau Community Center and working together to help the community has made my retirement rewarding.