Asbury Spirit newsletter Summer 2012 : Page 2

Is Altruism Good for You? Studies, Residents’ Experiences Suggest Answer Is a Resounding “Yes!” nyone who spends more than a few minutes at an Asbury community might start to wonder if the “A” in Asbury actually stands for altruism. Maybe it’s in the water, maybe it’s some shared genetic coding that draws givers to Asbury. Either way, your desire to help others provides countless benefits for people living inside – and outside – your community. But did you know that helping others has been scientifically proven to help you, too? Last year, a researcher at Stony Brook University School of Medicine reviewed more than 50 studies involving the effects of helping others and found that those who were sincerely altruistic were happier, healthier and in some cases, even had longer life spans. “.…The benefits of giving are extremely powerful, to the point that suggests healthcare professionals should consider recommending such activities to patients,” said Stephen Post, in an interview with United Press International. Post’s findings mimicked those of a 2003 study of 2,000 churchgoers that showed people who provided support to others had better mental health than those who only received such help, as long as they didn’t overextend themselves. Mary Waldron, Asbury Methodist Village’s 2011 Volunteer of the Year, can’t imagine living any other way. “I think what I love most about Asbury is the fact that there is such a strong volunteer spirit manifesting itself in so many different ways,” Mary continues. “It’s so much fun to see the new people come and take their place in it. It’s contagious.” Her work at the Wilson Health Care Center, the community’s in-house TV studio, and with The Asbury Guild – among many other places – gives Mary a schedule that resembles one held by someone still working 9 to 5. And every year she looks forward to serving as a A model for the fashion show benefitting the Alzheimer’s Association. Sharon Bennett, volunteer coordinator for the campus, says Mary won her title fair and square, but she hastens to point Sharon Bennett and out that Mary is the Mary Waldron norm, not the exception around the community. “There’s definitely a spirit of giving, other Mary Waldrons who give above and beyond,” says Sharon. “Just look at my numbers,” she says referring to her database. “I have 600 active resident volunteers.” That may be the case, but Asbury residents are typically quick to deflect attention when asked about the work they do. “Please don’t make me sound like a saint,” says Springhill’s Marjorie Podolsky, when talking about the work she does with the Erie Neighborhood Art House, an after-school program for children living in poverty. “You never know what the results of your work are going to be, but I feel I get a great deal more than I give.” A retired English professor, Marjorie also teaches adult education courses and has started a memoir-writing group at Springhill. That, in particular, has been a pleasant surprise, she says, and has led to some interesting friendships. “We have all said we had no idea of the stories that are going on in people’s lives,” she notes. “You don’t get to talk about these kinds of things in day-to-day conversations. We never would have known each other like this if we hadn’t been writing together.” 2  Asbury Communities: SPIRIT  •  Summer 2012

Is Altruism Good For You?

Studies, Residents’ Experiences Suggest Answer Is a Resounding “Yes!”<br /> <br /> Anyone who spends more than a few minutes at an Asbury community might start to wonder if the “A” in Asbury actually stands for altruism. Maybe it’s in the water, maybe it’s some shared genetic coding that draws givers to Asbury. Either way, your desire to help others provides countless benefits for people living inside – and outside – your community.<br /> <br /> But did you know that helping others has been scientifically proven to help you, too? Last year, a researcher at Stony Brook University School of Medicine reviewed more than 50 studies involving the effects of helping others and found that those who were sincerely altruistic were happier, healthier and in some cases, even had longer life spans. “.…The benefits of giving are extremely powerful, to the point that suggests healthcare professionals should consider recommending such activities to patients,” said Stephen Post, in an interview with United Press International.<br /> <br /> Post’s findings mimicked those of a 2003 study of 2,000 churchgoers that showed people who provided support to others had better mental health than those who only received such help, as long as they didn’t overextend themselves.<br /> <br /> Mary Waldron, Asbury Methodist Village’s 2011 Volunteer of the Year, can’t imagine living any other way. “I think what I love most about Asbury is the fact that there is such a strong volunteer spirit manifesting itself in so many different ways,” Mary continues. “It’s so much fun to see the new people come and take their place in it. It’s contagious.”<br /> <br /> Her work at the Wilson Health Care Center, the community’s in-house TV studio, and with The Asbury Guild – among many other places – gives Mary a schedule that resembles one held by someone still working 9 to 5. And every year she looks forward to serving as a Model for the fashion show benefitting the Alzheimer’s Association.<br /> <br /> Sharon Bennett, volunteer coordinator for the campus, says Mary won her title fair and square, but she hastens to point out that Mary is the norm, not the exception around the community. “There’s definitely a spirit of giving, other Mary Waldrons who give above and beyond,” says Sharon. “Just look at my numbers,” she says referring to her database. “I have 600 active resident volunteers.”<br /> <br /> That may be the case, but Asbury residents are typically quick to deflect attention when asked about the work they do.<br /> <br /> “Please don’t make me sound like a saint,” says Springhill’s Marjorie Podolsky, when talking about the work she does with the Erie Neighborhood Art House, an after-school program for children living in poverty. “You never know what the results of your work are going to be, but I feel I get a great deal more than I give.”<br /> <br /> A retired English professor, Marjorie also teaches adult education courses and has started a memoir-writing group at Springhill.That, in particular, has been a pleasant surprise, she says, and has led to some interesting friendships. “We have all said we had no idea of the stories that are going on in people’s lives,” she notes. “You don’t get to talk about these kinds of things in day-to-day conversations. We never would have known each other like this if we hadn’t been writing together.” All told, Marjorie estimates that she spends about eight hours a week volunteering and likes the sense of purpose it brings to her days.“It’s good for you physically when you have to get up and out,” she explains.<br /> <br /> Dottie Smith, of Inverness Village, agrees with that sentiment 110 percent.“We’ve got so many who volunteer in so many areas,” she says. A daily presence in the community’s healthcare center, she says if she weren’t doing that, “I’d probably stay in the apartment more and just dry up. This keeps me going.”<br /> <br /> She was inspired to begin volunteering in healthcare after she herself became a resident There for several months. “I told them if they would get me well, I would be their volunteer,” she jokes, adding that her care there was “wonderful.” As she began to recover, her energy returned and, “One day I asked the activities director if she needed anything done and she said, ‘If you feel like doing it, I’m happy to have you.’ ”<br /> <br /> These days, she’s a constant presence. She also spends about an hour each day taking around a food cart to residents’ rooms. “I can go in and see everyone there and think I could be sitting here with them,” Dottie says. “It makes me want to spend even more time. I’ve found my spot here.”<br /> <br /> The residents seem to agree, dubbing her Miss Sunshine. “They’ll say, ‘Here comes Miss Sunshine. What have you got today?’ One resident asked me if I made good money off that cart [where all snacks are free] and I said, ‘I sure do!’ I get lots of laughs out of it.”

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