98-Year-Old Reminds Us of the Value of Volunteering
Many evenings while I'm at home, feet up on the couch and surfing for mental respite, Paul Brackbill sits hunched over a small desk, continuing a 35 year legacy of giving back to his Greensboro, N.C. community.
Brackbill, 98 (yes, you read that right) retired as an accountant back in 1977 (when I was just 11 years of age). Not wanting to rest on his laurels, Paul looked around for something to do, and found Moses Cone Hospital in need of volunteers. Brackbill immediately signed up, was trained on what to do, and hasn't looked back.
The near-centenarian has volunteered, off and on, at Moses Cone Hospital for 22 years. Wanting to be no burden to another, Brackbill drives himself to the hospital, where he dispatches wheelchairs to those being discharged after a stay.
Mark Geary of WFMY Channel 2 News in Greensboro got to interview Brackbill recently. "This is not a stressful job," said Brackbill, when asked about the amount of time he puts in. "Sitting and answering the phone is not work. This job here is designed for older people."
What brings Brackbill back each and every day? If you ask his coworkers, they'll tell you it's all of the free cakes and pies others bring in. Paul tells Geary that it's a sense of personal responsibility. "Somebody has to do it." This sentiment is definitely echoed in Paul's other volunteer work, at his retirement center, in leading a poetry group, and providing assistance at his local library.
According to a 2011 study published in Health Psychology, volunteering might be good for one's health, prolonging the lives of retirees. While 4.3% of seniors in the study who had not volunteered in the previous decade died four years after being questioned, only 1.6% of those that served their community during the same time period passed away.
With 98 years under his belt, seems Paul Brackbill has stumbled into a service-filled fountain of youth. Maybe it's time I put down the remote and found someplace to devote my spare time to?
Image courtesy Digitriad.com
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