Monday, February 20, 2017

If you have visited the Beach Cities Health Center, you most likely have encountered Betty Raulin & Shirley Hutchins sitting behind the information desk, eager to help every person who enters the door. The energy and love these two women emanate is contagious! Betty has been a volunteer for Beach Cities Health District for 35 years, with Shirley by her side for the past 21. We sat down with this dynamic duo see why volunteering is important to them.

How did you first get involved with volunteer work?

Betty: Volunteering has always been a big part of my life. I’ve always volunteered. I usher at the Norris Theater in Palos Verdes and I volunteer at my church on the Fellowship Committee. A neighbor talked me into coming to BCHD 35 years ago because they knew how much I loved volunteering.

Shirley: After I retired and moved into a senior complex, I learned about volunteering at Beach Cities Health District. I applied and I’ve been here ever since!

Can you describe your day-to-day duties as a volunteer?

Shirley: I come here to boss people around. No, no, I’m kidding! We give people directions. We try to be helpful people.

Betty: Yes, being helpful and giving directions. People come in and don’t know their doctor’s names, so we help them. We also offer telephone assistance and even help call cabs.

Why do you choose to volunteer at BCHD?

Shirley: I don’t have money to give, but I have time. And I enjoy it! I really enjoy the people, and helping them. I’m very much honored to be with BCHD. They are incredible at helping people in the community.

Betty: I enjoy helping others and being a greeter as people come into the lobby. I just enjoy it as a part of my life.

How long have you two been friends?

Shirley: 21 years…since I started here (she looks at Betty and they both smile)

How does volunteering enhance or improve your life?

Shirley: You become friendly with the same people, they stop by and say hello…you not only are a greeter, but you get to know people. Connecting with others is so important and I really love that part of the job. I’m proud of what I do. My family is proud of me and, because I volunteer, my family volunteers. Volunteering connects us.

Betty: Connection is really important! Staying busy and active is good for me, too.

Shirley: It keeps us young!

Betty: Mmhmm! (nods in agreement)

Do you believe that volunteering improves your personal health, physically, mentally or emotionally?

Shirley: Absolutely!

In your opinion, why is volunteering so beneficial for older adults?

Shirley: You have to have the ability to be with people. There’s volunteer work that doesn’t involve being around people, but the social aspect is so important.

Betty: Volunteering keeps your mind alert and it gives you a purpose. It keeps you active.

What would you say to an older adult who is may be considering volunteer work, but isn't totally sure whether it's worth the time investment?

Betty: I would encourage them to sign up to volunteer because I think it’s very helpful. It gives them something to do that supports their well-being.

Shirley: I try to support people when they express desire to volunteer and I always share my positive experience with them. 

Data shows that many older adults in our community struggle with loneliness, isolation and even depression as they age, has that been your experience at all and, if so, how did/do you deal with those challenges?

Betty: I have a very active life with bridge and other volunteer work, so that keeps me young at heart. I have almost every day of the week planned!

Shirley: I don’t have a chance to! I’m very busy! I have almost every day of the week planned like Betty. I don’t have a car, so BCHD has provided me with an Errand Volunteer and someone to help me clean. I used to have a Conversation Companion who would come by too. I admire BCHD very much because they do so much to help older adults from being lonely and depressed.

How important is it to live with a sense of purpose in daily life? 

Shirley: Purpose gets me out of bed.

Betty: It makes the day more interesting! When I accomplish a challenge, it’s rewarding.

Can you describe your life’s purpose?

Shirley: To stay alive and help people if I can!

Betty: To be helpful to others

What is the key to living a long, meaningful life in your opinion?

Betty: Being active, keeping your mind alert and helping others. I stay on top of my doctor’s appointments, too.

Shirley: My purpose in life is to be healthy. I’ve had colon cancer and lung cancer and I’ve lived to 91…I’m going for 100! I have to take care of myself so I can continue to be of service and help people.

Written with thanks to Ashley Smaldino

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