By Becky Pazkowski

Last month I wrote about Rath and Hartner’s book Well Being: The Five Essential Elements.  The authors  studied 23,000 people and found that there are five broad categories of well being that are essential to a thriving life: career, social, financial, physical and community wellbeing.  What  they found to be the single biggest threat to our own wellbeing is ourselves.  They go on to discuss items in each of the five categories that tend to be essential to a thriving wellbeing, and within our control.

In the chapter on Community Wellbeing (the sense of engagement you have with the area where you live) they suggest that thriving community wellbeing is about what we do to give back to our community.  They go on to explain that giving back is what may distinguish an exceptional life from a good one.

Philanthropy takes many forms . . . time, talent, treasure.  Time is perhaps the most valuable gift one can give.  Volunteerism, for many of us, was our first experience with giving.  We may have gotten started through our church group, scouts, school, or with our family.  Giving of one’s time is fulfilling, especially when you know that the time you have volunteered has served as a special purpose and helped someone.

Volunteering at Plymouth Harbor

For several young adults in Sarasota, the gift of time has played a valuable role in life at Plymouth Harbor.  Students from local high schools have been volunteering on Saturday mornings since June of this year to staff eTEAM clinics, where residents receive assistance using electronic devices such as cell phones, tablets, computers, etc.

Jeannette and Charles Gehrie, who have received assistance with their cell phones, commented that they have felt the students are patient and knowledgeable.  “They are delightful young adults and they have helped us immensely in using our cell phones more fully and with more ease.”

Marty Buenneke, who has been working mostly with Marinna Okawa from Pine View High School, says, “Marinna has been helping me with email on my computer.  She is very well qualified and has a lovely personality.”

Jim Underwood, who has received assistance from several of the students, comments, “These students are very interesting and dedicated to helping us.  I thought they would be more shy, but they are very outgoing.”

Florence and George Heitler comment:  “The eTEAM was a great idea and truly is a wonderful help to those of us born before the electronic revolution.  Whoever thought of it deserves credit, but members of the eTEAM deserve our sincere thanks.  They are truly life savers for our problems (which seem so simple to them!).  They are kind, non-judgmental, and seem happy to help.  Please tell the e-TEAM how much we appreciate them.”

Sixty-four residents have received instruction from our eTEAM members, who have volunteered over 90 hours since June.  Students receive credit for community service through their high schools, where a minimum of 75 hours are required for graduation in Sarasota County.

Other members of the eTEAM, current and past, include Tamera Miller, Lexi Hart, Angelo Buenano, Grace Seymore, and Evan Pazkowski.  In addition, thank you to the adult volunteers who have helped me facilitate the clinics each week.

We are very grateful to these bright, energetic, and knowledgeable students who have chosen Plymouth Harbor for their volunteerism.  They have certainly answered a need here, thus contributing to something bigger than themselves.  If you wonder if they find enjoyment from volunteering, David Yaegers commented, “I enjoy my visits at Plymouth Harbor because the residents are such interesting people.  I’ve met an inventor, a world-renowned photographer, and a woman who told me all about the times when she lived in New York City.  I’m teaching them how to use technology, but they’re teaching me so much, too!”

Regardless of whether you need help from the eTEAM or not, please feel free to stop by to the Resident Business Office some Saturday morning to meet the team and thank them for their valuable gifts of time.