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Retirees recognized for lifetime of giving

Created date

December 25th, 2012

Elementary school teacher Gloria Paar officially retired in 2001, but she still wasn t ready to give up her passion for working with children. In 2004, she decided to draw on her teaching experience to help foster Bridging Generations, a program which teams up Charlestown volunteers with local elementary school kids to help with their reading, writing, and math skills. v I love working with kids, and I like to stay busy, so it seemed like a great opportunity to do what I like and at the same time serve a greater purpose, says Gloria, who co-chairs the group. Since moving to Charlestown, an Erickson Living community in Catonsville, Md., in 1994, Gloria has continued volunteering with a long list of resident-run groups, including the on-site library; the Treasure Sale, a resident-run thrift shop; Stitches from the Heart, a group that knits hats and blankets for newborns; and the Friendly Visitors welcoming committee. Volunteering was something that was instilled in me growing up, says Gloria. Because Charlestown has so many different volunteer opportunities, I think it spurred me to want to get involved and help others.

Making a difference

This fall, Gloria was among 8 Charlestown residents and 42 retirees from across the state to be inducted into the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, a nonprofit organization that recognizes extraordinary men and women because of their caring and volunteer efforts in improving the lives of others. Euguene Langbehn was honored for his volunteer work with community and church organizations like the Lion s Club and Knights of Columbus, as well as his many ventures at Charlestown. The environment here really encourages people to be active and get involved, says Eugene, who along with his wife Charlotte, uses his vocal talent to host a weekly sing-a-long called Musical Moments. It just seems to me with all that Charlestown offers there s an opportunity around the corner for all of us. Three years ago, he began volunteering as an ambassador on the community s marketing committee where he answers questions from prospective residents about life at Charlestown. He also performs at an annual Valentine s Day concert to benefit a campus charity. A Scotts Branch Elementary School teacher for 28 years, Eugene says he discovered the power of giving back during his first year of teaching. I remember the principal telling the faculty that we had the power to make an impact in kids lives that would stay with them forever. That really stuck with me, says Eugene. It got me thinking that really everyone has the power to make a difference in someone else s life. Serving others has really been a hallmark of my life ever since.

Benefits of giving back

Research shows that the benefits of volunteering are far reaching. Studies conducted by Cornell University show selflessness and compassion for others seems to counteract the negative effects of stress on the body by increasing the level of the stress-reducing hormone oxytocin, as well as the production of feel-good brain chemicals like dopamine which also relieve anxiety. The 30-year study found that women, regardless of the number of children, marital status, occupation, education, or social class, who engaged in volunteer work to help others at least once a week, lived longer and were physically healthier than those who didn t volunteer. That holds true for Hall of Fame Inductee Sally Pound. I have been very blessed with good health, says Sally. I feel like this is my way of giving back. Two days a week, Sally, a former ad agency partner, volunteers her marketing expertise promoting Project Liberty Ship, a fully operational World War II memorial and museum ship in the Baltimore Harbor. Back at Charlestown, she chairs the dining ambassador program, which hosts dinner parties for new community members. She also volunteers in various roles at Our Lady of the Angels Chapel, the interfaith chapel at Charlestown. I ve met so many people and have been introduced to so many volunteer opportunities here that I would have never encountered had I stayed in my house, says Sally. Sally is not alone. In 2011, 800 Charlestown volunteers logged more than 230,000 hours of service. All of Charlestown is proud of the accomplishments of these talented residents, says Clara Parker, executive director. They not only share their time and energy at our campus but also in the surrounding community, strengthening Catonsville and beyond. They consistently put the needs of others at the forefront, an altruistic approach to life that inspires people of all ages. For more information about the Maryland Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, go online to