Actively Aging: Volunteering

Eau Claire (WQOW) – August’s “Actively Aging” segment focused on volunteering and how it is beneficial for seniors and the community as a whole.

Dr. Brandon Parkhurst, a family medicine physician at Marshfield Clinic, said that volunteering plays a role in health.

“The health benefits of volunteering for individuals who are aging are clear,” Parkhurst said, “They include decreased rates of depression, they include the health benefits of remaining active and healthy and interacting with other people. There’s even research that individuals that volunteer live longer.”

Mark Ruddy is the president of the Steering Committee for the East Side Hill Neighborhood Association, who volunteers and heads up ideas for various volunteer-based projects that make the East Side hill and the City of Eau Claire a better place to live. The committee initiated the creation and maintenance of a prairie in Boyd Park, and they also helped with improvements to Margaret Street.

“To make Margaret Street safer,” Ruddy said, “We convinced the city to take it down from 30 miles per hour, to 20 miles per hour but then the other thing was to do traffic calming projects that bring trees and perennials closer to the curb so that it makes the streets look narrower so traffic just instinctively slows down.”

Those examples show how volunteering can help improve the community, but volunteering can also help save the community money. Carrie Ottum, the recreation program supervisor for the Eau Claire Parks, Recreation and Forestry Department, said her department has benefited in this way.

“With funding decreasing and our parks are getting bigger and it’s more to maintain, and we just don’t have the manpower to do that,” Ottum said. “When we have volunteers, especially senior volunteers, it saves us anywhere from $2,000 to $28,000 given the extensiveness of the project.”

If you’d like to volunteer, the City of Eau Claire’s website has seven categories with various volunteer service opportunities for you to take part in.

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