A Double Dose of Volunteering Can Make Your Day

Richard Most has always enjoyed connecting with people, and his past volunteer experiences have included the development of a Dad’s Club at his children’s elementary school and assisting with reading and art programs for students. Four years ago, his wife found a job in the Twin Cities, so they moved from Indianapolis to Eagan with their two daughters to “experience a new area.”  He decided at that time to broaden his volunteer experiences here, too.“In today’s society, I don’t feel there’s enough volunteering or understanding of the feeling you get when you help someone,” Richard explains. “People are more isolated now and don’t even always know their next door neighbor’s name. I like the kindness of making someone’s day, and I have the flexibility to do that. It gives me a good feeling.”

After working in outside sales and more recently in the insurance industry, Richard has been a self-described “domestic” for the past 12 years. Now that his daughters are in middle school, he feels it’s important, at their age, that they understand what volunteering is about. They have both met Charles, the elderly man he helps out through DARTS.

“I’ve been grocery shopping for Charles for the past year, and he’s a sweetheart of a guy who has problems with his legs and can’t get around,” Richard says. “He loves to chit chat, and I love listening to his stories. I go over there a couple times a week, and sometimes he wants us to just sit and watch soccer and tennis together. He’s very grateful, very kind and very appreciative. I help him get his food, but it’s more than that. I’ve met his children and was even invited to his daughter’s wedding.”

Richard knew he wanted to work with the elderly following the death of his wife’s parents. He missed the weekly lunches he enjoyed so much with his father-in-law, and was looking for a volunteer opportunity when he heard about DARTS from his wife’s co-worker.

“DARTS turned out to be the perfect fit, because I also found out about the Learning Buddies Program, which places volunteers in elementary schools in the area,” Richard says. “My expertise is in handwriting skills and penmanship, so every week I work with 2nd grade students at Diamond Path Elementary School in the Apple Valley-Rosemount School District. I help a small group who are having handwriting issues practice how to start and finish letters – and even the proper way to hold a pencil. At that age it’s critical they learn how to form letters correctly. It makes a big difference and can lead to better test scores and better grades.”

One outcome of Richard’s Learning Buddies experience that he didn’t anticipate is that it has helped him become a better parent. Patience, he says, can transfer to your own personal situation, whether it’s with his children or with other people he may encounter along the way. In addition to volunteering for DARTS, he participates in a twice-yearly program that works with the homeless.

Richard says his family loves it here in the Twin Cities. His wife works at a local hospital, and they’re all very “outdoorsy,” participating in mountain biking, hiking, camping and cross country skiing.

“You have to realize, though, that there are people in need all around us,” he adds. “Working with DARTS has been a great experience for me, and the coordinators I’ve worked with helped prepare me for the volunteering I’ve done. To me, the DARTS organization is mostly about helping older people keep their mobility and independence. If you have someone to rake your leaves, take you for a haircut, buy your groceries, and just keep you from feeling isolated, you can stay in your home. That’s such an important service they’re providing.”

By Patrice Peterson, DARTS volunteer

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