Wednesday, February 22, 2017
Volunteering with Beach Cities Health District 'good for soul, good for community'

by Kelcie Pegher, The Beach Reporter

Mary Stepenhorst has a lot of used to's, she said.

“I used to this, I used to do that.”

She loved gardening until she couldn't lean over to pull the weeds. She loved to head to the senior center. But lately, at 90 years old, she's homebound. So volunteers stopping by to help with housework from the Beach Cities Health District was a godsend.

They promised to clean the windows—and window-sills—and weed the garden.

“What can I do aside from sit here?” she asked the volunteers.

So while she ate her Morning Glory muffin, volunteers from the restaurant Fishing with Dynamite, got to work. Caroline Cueter, with the restaurant group, helped to set up the volunteer effort with BCHD.

“We have the people to, so we might as well,” she said.

Recently, Beach Cities Health District is finding volunteerism has more benefits for those on the giving side, as well as the receiving end. Volunteers have lower mortality rates and rates of depression, according to a study from the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

Jerry Garbus, the director of operations for Fishing with Dynamite, said volunteering is good for the soul and for the community. 

"Our job is to make people's lives better. This allows us another medium for that," he said. 

BCHD works with companies interested in volunteering and partners them with the right people. After seeing corporations' success with school gardens this summer, there has been more of a focus on upping volunteer numbers, said the director of human resources, Megan Vixie.

The volunteer day is mutually beneficial. Recipient Stepenhorst said BCHD is always helpful and obliging. She has a care manager who visits and checks in on her, along with a son who helps her with the "heavy lifting."

Stephenhorst said the Beach Cities Health District has been obliging and helpful over the years. 

As she ate her breakfast, volunteers with rags wiped down the windows in her Redondo Beach kitchen. 

"Oh good, that windowsill has been driving me crazy," Stepenhorst said. 

To view full The Beach Reporter article, click here.