By Carol Kissinger, BS

Community Volunteer

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It’s that time of year again!  It seems regardless of our age or status in life, the New Year reminds us that there is always room for improvement.  Throughout history we have chosen the New Year to start over, lose weight, exercise, eat better or just become a better person. 

Research tells us that New Year’s resolutions last about five months at most.  Why? What happens? Are our goals not realistic? A better approach might be to think about the “golden rule” and spend some time recalling how it has worked in your life. Use the New Year as an opportunity to start living “one day at a time.” What can we do to make each day count?

Often, when we take the emphasis off ourselves and concentrate on others, things seem to fall into place. Some say it’s the natural flow of positive energy … and volunteering is a great place to start!

There are always excuses for not volunteering — I’m too old, my body aches, I can’t drive, my vision is bad, or the weather is bad. You might think volunteering means we have to get up and go somewhere at a certain time on a certain day. Some of us can do that, and that’s great. But what about those who can’t? What can we do for others when we are already depending on others ourselves?

You may need someone to drive you to the grocery or to a doctor appointment, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make phone calls or share a cheery smile. Who doesn’t enjoy picking up the phone to hear a friendly voice? Think about how you feel when you get a call of caring instead of a sales pitch. Remember phones are still more personal than computers.

If you’re lucky enough to be able to do more, think about what gives you joy. This may take some time, but the results are better than weight loss. We all need to fill our cup. Is yours half full or half empty? What can you do about it? Volunteer!  It’s guaranteed to fill your cup.  It may take a while to find the right fit, but it’s worth it.

Where do you start? First, spend some time thinking about what gives you joy. What and who does that involve? Then try a few things on for size. No one asks you to commit for life. Change is good and rewarding. You may need to start simple and infrequent and see what happens. You will know when it’s right.

Here are a few places to look for volunteer opportunities:

  • Your church
  • Your neighborhood
  • Family members
  • Local schools and libraries
  • Any organization that interests you

If you are already doing all you can, good for you. But think about it … how can doing small things improve your world? Start your own happiness project. You may not receive a written thank you note, but your gifts will be appreciated and acknowledged by the world.

There is a great need for volunteers in our community. Someone needs your time and talents, and the New Year is the perfect time to explore and find out. Good luck, and happy volunteering!

Carol Kissinger is a member of the planning committee for the Mid-America Institute on Aging, co-sponsored by the University of Southern Indiana and SWIRCA & More. More information is at