I have always heard that the days will go faster as I get older. It appears to be true, and every year I find myself trying to pack more and more into my schedule.
If this is also happening to you, possibly we share the same dream: After retirement, I will have hours of time to relax on the couch and watch “The Price is Right” (it’s a guilty pleasure of mine). But, I know myself and I will find a way to stay busy, most likely by volunteering for all of the things that don’t currently fit into my schedule. It’s just my nature.
Like many people, I choose to volunteer for a variety of reasons, but first and foremost it’s because I want to help others. The Highmark PALS (People Able To Lend Support) program is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers who make helping others the primary reason for donating their time.
The PALS program coordinates volunteers to provide non-medical help to Highmark Medicare members. Volunteers lend a hand with daily living tasks — free of charge — to those in need in select Pennsylvania and West Virginia counties, so they can maintain an independent and healthy way of life.
I didn’t really become interested in the specifics of food until high school; the usual body changes and social pressures made sure of that. However, as this interest grew, so did my awareness of the U.S. food production system. As I started paying attention to what I ate, I became interested in why some of my friends were vegan or vegetarian. I found myself researching the U.S. meat production industry, and I realized that I didn’t want to support behavior like the mistreatment of animals and the wasteful use of natural resources. So I took what seemed to be the logical next step: I became a vegetarian.
There is no experience necessary to be a PALS volunteer, and warm, caring people who would like to help others are welcome to participate. Many PALS volunteers are age 70 and older, but participants of all ages can donate their time to the program.
Commitment to the PALS program is flexible, and volunteers may participate after attending an initial meeting and passing certain background checks.
There is no commitment simply for attending the informational session. If after the meeting you decide you would like to volunteer, then you can continue with the application process.
PALS volunteers can choose activities they are most comfortable doing. For instance, you would not be asked to help members with meals if you do not cook, or to drive them to doctors’ appointments if you are not comfortable driving.
Many volunteers don’t ask for anything in return for the time they give to organizations the reward of helping others is often the ultimate gratification. However, Highmark appreciates the time that volunteers give and rewards them through a structured service credit program.
PALS volunteers receive “credits” for each service they provide. These credits can be used in a variety of ways, including:
Highmark also thanks PALS volunteers each year by hosting appreciation events. These are held once a year in several different volunteer regions.
The Highmark PALS program accepts volunteers at any time throughout the year.
If you would like to become a PALS volunteer or would like more information about volunteering, please visit the website or call 1-800-988-0706 (ext. 4) to speak to a Highmark PALS representative and schedule an initial informational meeting in your neighborhood.