Tribune Print Share Text

Volunteer of the year

Helping others is second nature for Parkville man

Created date

June 19th, 2012

Merriam-Webster defines the word volunteer as a person who voluntarily undertakes or expresses a willingness to undertake a service. But for retired certified public accountant Brooks Hubbert, it s simply doing what he loves. I really don t look at it as volunteering; I merely get involved in things that interest me, says Brooks, who was named volunteer of the year at Oak Crest, the Erickson Living community in Parkville, Md. When my wife and I moved to Oak Crest in 2004, we started joining activities together, and our interests just expanded from there. In 2011 his interests totaled an impressive 1,300-plus volunteer hours. He volunteered at the community serving in a variety of different positions, including offering financial expertise to the resident advisory council and ushering at Protestant services in the on-site chapel.

Ready, willing, and able

Mr. Hubbert is always willing to lend a hand, says Oak Crest Volunteer Coordinator Alison Krull. In fact, the number of hours he has volunteered probably totals well over 1,300 those were simply the hours we have on record and accounted for. Many of those hours were spent teaching basic computer classes to his neighbors. I had no computer experience at all when we moved to Oak Crest in 2004, says Brooks. I took a beginners course offered by volunteers in the Oak Crest computer group followed by several advanced classes. Eventually, Brooks joined the group and began teaching weekly on-site classes similar to those he took himself. It s so rewarding for me when a former student tells me how they are now communicating with one of their kids or grandkids across the country through email, says Brooks, who also assists residents by entering their grocery orders online with a service from Giant supermarkets called Peapod, which provides online grocery shopping and home delivery. As codirector of the hand bell choir, a musical group his wife Joan started in 2005, Brooks handles logistics, including setting up tables for each practice and transporting equipment to performances, emceeing at concerts, and settling financial requests made to the Oak Crest Treasure Chest, which donates proceeds to support the various resident-run groups, like the hand bell choir. I really enjoy hearing them play and sharing in the compliments they receive every time they give a concert. According to Krull, a number of programs at Oak Crest exist solely because of the efforts of volunteers, including the Treasure Chest. Volunteers sort the donated items, man the store, handle the finances, and take care of the overall operation of the store, says Krull. The volunteer hours generated from just this program alone are astounding.

Every little bit helps

In 2011, approximately 800 Oak Crest community members logged 69,660 volunteer hours. Krull says she depends on volunteers like Brooks to keep the ball rolling. We are fortunate to have a core group of dedicated and engaged volunteers like Brooks, says Krull. Every day I witness our volunteers taking action in some sort of capacity sharing a smile, lending support, offering instruction, serving as a role model. Without the dedication of the volunteer base we have here at Oak Crest, the community would not be the same. The selflessness of these men and women is admirable, and the impacts they continually make on the community are immeasurable. According to a 2007 report by the Corporation for National and Community Service, a government organization that promotes community service, volunteering is not only good for the greater community, it can also be good for your health. The results of the report from 30 studies show older people who volunteer enjoy longer lives, higher functional ability, and lower rates of depression and heart disease. Volunteering can give you a new sense of purpose and keep you active. If people volunteer regularly, it helps contribute to the maintenance of a strong social network, said Robert Grimm, director of the research and policy development office, in an article appearing inU.S. News and World Report. Two of the studies indicate a threshold of about 100 hours per year of volunteer activity, or about two hours per week, required to achieve a health benefit. As for Brooks, when he s not teaching computer classes or transporting hand bells, he s busy volunteering with the Oak Crest concert committee and the Community College of Baltimore County planning committee. It is hard to pick out a favorite group or to say that I get more out of volunteering with one activity than any other because to me I m just doing what I enjoy, says Brooks. The lifestyle I enjoy and the friends I ve made along the way just can t be beat.