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AARP AARP States South Dakota Volunteering

National Volunteer Month Reflections: Goodness Stretches

Volunteers: Neighbors clean up their community park.

"I wish there was something I could do..."

Forgive me for saying this, but 2020 has been a pretty tough year so far. Along with the ordinary struggles of winter on the plains, we are facing unprecedented medical, economic, political, and social challenges – from across the street and around the globe. As I stay safe and warm in my home, I feel detached from the world and hear myself saying, “I wish there was something I could do.”

While reflecting on that wish, I began to think of the many AARP volunteers across the state. I have attended events, celebrations, and meetings with individuals who are reaching out every day to do what they can to make their neighborhoods and communities better. Sometimes it is a small gesture – talking to someone who is alone, sending an email to a legislator, or telling a friend about scams that target veterans. Other opportunities take a little more time – giving a fraud presentation, hosting Movies for Grown-ups, helping a senior do their taxes, or helping to plant a community garden. We may not connect these actions with the larger struggles in the world, but that’s a mistake. The warmth and knowledge that radiates from these actions – performed every day by AARP volunteers like you – never end. They grow larger and can travel all around the world – even to very unexpected places.

And every act like that is not only a gift to someone else; it is a gift to know that what you have done has made a difference. We appreciate our volunteers – and as volunteers, we appreciate the opportunity to do something!

I am overwhelmed with optimism and gratitude when I consider the gifts of time and expertise that our volunteers share so freely. As we head into National Volunteer Appreciation Week, please take a few moments to daydream about how goodness stretches from our homes across the street, across the state, and around the world. As you stay, safe and healthy in your homes, be grateful for the opportunities we have all had to reach out – in person and virtually! Keep up your good work!

Jill Tyler
AARP SD State President