ORIENTATION, SUPPORT, VOLUNTEERS

Make a Resolution this New Year’s to Boost Wholeness and Wellbeing for Yourself and Others: Volunteer

Written by: MaryLou Bessette

Meaningful connections stir and inspire us. In the wake of almost 3-years of social distancing and virtual gatherings, reconnecting with others has been difficult and complex, but never more necessary than now. If you find yourself in need of a boost to reconnect with people in a meaningful way, take solace in knowing that there is a simple answer. Volunteer.
Did you know that volunteering can restore and renew your mental, physical, and emotional health? Research shows that when you give of yourself through acts of caring and service, you receive benefits in return—benefits like stress reduction, a greater sense of purpose and meaning, and diminished feelings of isolation and loneliness.
The following story, written by longtime Duet volunteer and donor, Mary Lou Bessette, illustrates this remarkable phenomena and will inspire you to begin a new resolution this year to volunteer.


A New Year’s Resolution You Can Keep

by Mary Lou Bessette

Do you want to make a resolution for 2023 that you will keep and be a habit for good—both permanent and impactful? You’ve found it if you resolve to be a Duet volunteer.

Volunteering has been one of the highlights of my decade of Duet experiences, and a resolution I have easily kept. The homebound and often isolated adults Duet serves through its volunteers are affectionately known as our “neighbors.” Let me introduce you to three of them that I came to know. 

I remember one neighbor who was a strong, courageous, handsome Icelandic woman in her 80s. She was a pacesetter in her profession, the first woman to work inside her state’s correctional system. She taught me Icelandic history and customs. We traded recipes, mostly desserts, and our conversations often seemed to matter more than the necessary doctors’ appointments.

I remember another neighbor who was a fashionable, petite Italian seamstress who stopped counting birthdays at 75. She learned needle arts in Europe, immigrated to New York City, and worked in the high fashion houses there. She dressed for the eye doctor in Sunday best, much of it bespoke. One day, she showed me elaborate liturgical garb she had designed and sewn herself. I can still envision those treasures.

I remember (every day) Dorothy, who died this year. She was a gentle woman of deep determination, quick wit, and abiding faith. She was proud to be six months older than Queen Elizabeth. As a Duet volunteer, I helped her shop, go to doctor’s appointments, pick up mail, and made friendly phone calls to keep her connected. “It is what it is” was her mantra, as she relied on faith for strength and courage.

My late husband, Jim, and I helped Dorothy for six years to live with compassion, dignity and hope. She guided us as we too faced the challenges of aging. She became my personal role model for aging with love, grace, and goodness. As Jim’s health declined, Dorothy motivated and inspired him to live every moment to the fullest. She seemed to grow stronger as her health grew weaker, and she taught us both that faith defies fear.

And so it goes with volunteering. A decade ago this New Year’s, Jim and I wanted to help Duet. Instead, we were the ones who received abundant blessings.

Neighbors near you now need help as 2023 dawns. Making and keeping a New Year’s resolution is possible when it is mutually beneficial. When you resolve to volunteer, you can be certain you will be helping yourself too.


Duet has many volunteer opportunities including driving neighbors grocery shopping, giving rides to medical appointments, making friendly phone calls and visits. And we make it easy to volunteer by working around your schedule and matching you with a neighbor near you. Sign up today for a volunteer orientation or call (602) 274-5022.

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