Keeping an Active Mind by Volunteering

By Bill Krasean, Senior Services RSVP Advisory Council Volunteer

 

Bill Brodie spent much of his career in sales management and sales promotions, so it was only natural that after he retired he’s out selling and promoting a new enterprise: Volunteering.

The 70-year-old Cincinnati native has lived in a number of American cities – including Portage – since graduating from Miami of Ohio in 1973. And when he and his wife Libby moved back to Portage a year and a half ago, they both decided to volunteer with Senior Services of Southwest Michigan’s Meals on Wheels. 

One day every other week they drive Route 4, delivering hot and cold meals and other food items to seniors. “I drive and Libby is the hopper,” Bill said. “It also is a good time for us to be together and talk.” They had also volunteered with Meals on Wheels when they lived briefly in South Carolina.

After graduating from college, Bill took a sales position with Proctor & Gamble in Detroit. He later switched to No Nonsense Fashions, living in Chicago, New York City and Los Angeles before taking a regional sales management position with Johnson & Johnson. That switch took him to Dallas and New Brunswick, New Jersey.

From 1990 to his retirement in 2002, he worked with Beech Products in Portage. After he retired he and Libby spent a few years in South Carolina before returning to Portage to be closer to their two daughters and families.  In December 2018 they join RSVP, a national service program of Senior Services of Southwest Michigan that connects volunteers with area organizations.

He and Libby also volunteer with Kids Hope USA, a national, non-profit organization which facilitates mentoring relationships with at-risk children through a church-school partnership. It has nearly 1,000 church-school partnerships in 34 states across the U.S. with over 15,000 mentor-student relationships existing within these partnerships.

Bill and Libby visit Haverhill Elementary School and each spends time with a different young person, helping with homework and reading and playing games. “It’s a faith-based educational program that emphasizes a positive attitude,” he said. “It is spiritually driven and provides young people a long-term positive relationship with an adult.”

Bill said he volunteers for several reasons, including a way to keep his mind active. While driving with Meals on Wheels, for example, he uses his organizational skills to determine to shortest, most efficient route. 

“We are very blessed in our lives,” he said. “I enjoy being able to assist people who need help. It’s cathartic to realize what you have.”

RSVP – Your Invitation to Volunteer is a program of Senior Services of Southwest Michigan.  Membership is free.  RSVP offers placement assistance and benefits for people age 55 and better to volunteer.  Many opportunities in Kalamazoo County and a few in Calhoun County.  Volunteers are needed with Meals on Wheels, Kalamazoo Loaves & Fishes, Volunteers 4 Seniors medical rides, Mentor Academic Success tutors and mentors, Medicare Medicaid Assistance Program (MMAP), Senior Services Home Repair, and more. Regular, flexible schedules available. Contact RSVP at 269-382-0515, volunteer@seniorservices1.org or click here to complete our online application.