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Diane Engel: Do yourself a favor and offer to help others

I get several calls from seniors looking for help with shoveling snow, raking leaves, mowing lawn or wanting someone to check on them daily.

Some don’t have the financial means to pay for a service to come in to help. At times, if they are unable to get help, this may result in the person having to move somewhere else and possibly losing their independence.

I had an elderly neighbor named Beth when I was a child. She was a retired country school teacher. The neighborhood children would help her with lawn jobs or shoveling snow, and she would reward us with delicious homemade cookies for our efforts. She taught me how to crochet, and I haven’t been able to stop crocheting since. I have found my creative side because of my relationship with her. Without it, there is a whole side of myself that I would have never known.

I know that those of us who are working usually don’t have much time to spare for anything beyond our daily routine of eat, sleep and work. But I would like for you to take a look around you and see who your neighbors are. There are those next door, but also there are others down the block or someone who you may just brush shoulders with during your day. Does your neighbor need a driveway cleaned out so they can get to the doctor? Or their leaves raked? Or need help with something so that they can function in their daily life? Try approaching your neighbor and ask if they would like some help with anything.

When you help someone, you would think the other person is the one reaping the benefits, but in reality, you will be better off because of it.

When you give of yourself, you get that feeling of reward for doing something good. It helps your self-esteem and helps your physical and mental well-being. It also gives you a new friendship, the opportunity to learn about the history of your community and it teaches you a new skill that you can pass down to your own kids. Involving your children in helping others teaches them empathy, understanding and caring.

There is a senior near you that needs your help and friendship. Reach out and see what benefits both of you could reap from the relationship. They are important to someone and helping them would be appreciated by the people who love them. You could be helping them stay independent and in their home longer. We need to take care of our seniors and we need to teach our children to do the same so that valuing our elders is passed down to every generation. They are a wealth of information and can teach us so much.

Don’t forget to pick up your ticket, at the front desk, to the Style Show hosted at 1 p.m. May 18. Cost is only $6.50. Also, come in to register for the Twins Bus Trip on June 20 against the Chicago White Sox. Cost is $80 for 2013 members and $90 for nonmembers. Register at the front desk of the Senior Center by May 20.

— Diane Engel is executive director of the Senior Activity Center in Bemidji.