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December 23, 2011 > Volunteers Have the Magic Touch

Volunteers Have the Magic Touch

Submitted By Rachael Vander Martin

LIFE ElderCare's Annual Volunteer Appreciation Luncheon drew an enthusiastic crowd of 275 people to the Newark Hilton on December 7 for an elegant meal and entertainment by local magician, Ryan Adler. This year's theme, "Volunteers Have the Magic Touch," celebrated the efforts of 574 volunteers who, along with 318 nursing students from Unitek College and Cal State East Bay, donated close to 42,000 hours last year towards helping frail, at-risk seniors in the Tri-City area stay healthy and maintain their independence.

Mary M. Anderson, Executive Director of LIFE ElderCare, welcomed the guests by saying, "Within each of us is a powerful design for living. Every day that you volunteer, your own special magic makes life better on behalf of our community's seniors." Janice Futch-Claridge, event sponsor, added, "This is a special time of the year but you are special all year long."

This year's recipient of the organization's Friend for LIFE Award was outgoing Newark mayor, David Smith. Smith accepted the award on behalf of the volunteers by saying, "Through your dedicated service to the community, all of you are MY friends for life. On my last official day of being Mayor, I couldn't be spending it with a finer group of people."

Smith moved some people in the room to tears with a heartfelt story about how sharing a candy bar with a classmate when he was in the third grade was remembered more than 30 years later at a high school reunion. "You never know how much you are impacting someone's life," he said, "with a just a simple act of kindness."

One of the guests, Paul Ray Andrus, has been giving rides to homebound seniors through the VIP Rides program for the past two years. "I like the flexibility of being able to volunteer when I have a break or some free time during the week," he said. Dori Alexander started delivering meals through the Meals On Wheels program three months ago. After she retired, she knew this was what she wanted to do. "When I see people on my route I feel so happy," she said, "and if they have time to talk, I enjoy visiting with them."

According to a recent article in the AARP Bulletin, the value of one volunteer hour in California is $23.42.When you add it up, this represents a $900,000 in-kind investment by LIFE ElderCare volunteers. If you would like to join them in building an aging-friendly community, and make some heart-friendly connections along the way, please visit the LIFE ElderCare website

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