Senior citizens well into their 80s are finding ways to volunteer through Masterpiece Living.
Masterpiece Living, an aging initiative that encourages spiritual, intellectual, physical and social growth for the residents of Holland Home’s independent living campuses, was first launched at Holland Home’s Breton campus in January 2009, and then on the Raybrook campus in March 2011.
Between the two campuses, Holland Home has about 1,000 residents, said Amanda Baushke, director of Masterpiece Living. To live at Holland Home, residents need to be at least 65 years old, she said, and the average ceiling age for independent living is about 85 years old.
“We track how often residents volunteer, or provide help, goods and services to others and whether they are interested in more volunteer opportunities,” she said. “According to our aggregate data, 84 percent of Raybrook residents and 69 percent of Breton residents are doing some type of volunteering.”
Baushke said resident volunteers serve in a number of ways, including providing transportation around campus, working at the reception desk, driving neighbors to doctors appointments, sitting on committees to provide resident input, setting up the library, making flower arrangements for the nursing home, gardening, delivering mail, helping with sales events, running the resident pantry and leading Bible studies.
“That is just what they are doing within our independent living buildings. Most of the residents also volunteer at their churches or somewhere out in the community,” she said. “We even have one resident that worked as a volunteer at a police station for 20 years after he retired.”
The volunteer work allows residents to benefit from Masterpiece Living’s sincere belief that growth in the four component areas of spiritual fulfillment, intellectual challenge, physical health and social engagement is possible for everyone, she said.
The work has revealed that volunteers who participate in these activities have greater longevity, higher functional ability, lower rates of depression and less incidence of heart disease, she said.
“At Holland Home, residents talk about the general feeling of well-being they get from helping others. We have residents that knit items for sick children in the hospitals,” she said. “Some may not be as mobile, but there is still something they can do to help others.”