Sue Botos Posts
Considering taking the plunge into volunteering? Take a peek online and you’ll find a pool of over 3 million possibilities. We’ve collected tips from seasoned volunteers and those who depend on them about how to navigate the choices.
FIND YOUR PASSION
Family ties to the military fueled the volunteer spirit for Sharon Nicastro, a local instructor for volunteer services and volunteer partner of the Regional Director for Services to the Armed Forces.
“Look for reputable organizations that support a cause that you feel strongly about,” she says. The American Red Cross Volunteer Connection (redcross.org) is a good place to start.
Rocky River resident Kathy Berkshire, whose business card proclaims “Professional Volunteer,” agrees.
“You need to think what you are passionate about, most importantly — something that has touched you,” says Berkshire, who lists the Rocky River Chamber of Commerce, Lakewood Rotary, the Ohio State University Alumni Association and Hospice of the Western Reserve on her resume.
“The more I did in the community, the more I found organizations I was passionate about,” she adds.
After you’ve found an organization you believe in, you still may have to find your niche. But that’s not a problem, says Alice Schwallie, manager of volunteer programs at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History.
“We rely on volunteers throughout the museum in every department across the board,” she says. There, opportunities include everything from clerical work to interacting with guests and doing research. “We work with each volunteer to determine what he or she wants to do. About 85 percent of the time when they come in, they target a certain area.”
Akron native and board member of West Shore CERT (Community Emergency Response Team) Dennis Kucler adds, “Our charitable, cultural, civic and entertainment organizations cannot afford to exist in today’s world without the commitment and energies of volunteers.”
TIME AND TRAINING
So you’ve found a cause you support....
One of the most frequently asked technology questions by Boomers and older adults is not that technical.
“They want to know ‘If I unfriend someone (on Facebook) would they know?’” says Tak Sato, founder of the Cleveland-based nonprofit Center for Aging in the Digital World, which offers technology instruction to those age 60 and over. “I always chuckle when I get asked that in class.”
While folks in their 50s and 60s represent one of the largest groups to embrace the digital world, Sato says that they need to “relearn” how to nurture online friendships.
“Social media mimics real life. The difference is that in real life, you curate your relationships one person at a time. With social media, you can curate (many) at the snap of your fingers.”
Millennials, who don’t recall a time without cellphones and instant communication, just accept technology as normal, says Sato, but even people in their 40s often must learn to shift their frame of reference to virtual.
“Until a few years ago, it was OK not to embrace the digital world. Now it is essential to use digital,” Sato says, noting that some companies and organizations only accept communication through email or a website.
For example, people often work into their 60s and 70s. To receive unemployment benefits through Cuyahoga County, everyone must register their work search information. For the first two weeks, the process can be done via phone, but after that, job seekers must report the information on the county website.
By the numbers
More than three-quarters of adults 50 and older own some type of computer, and nearly nine in 10 have a mobile device. Almost three out of four adults in their 50s own a smartphone, and over half have a tablet, according to a November 2016 report by G....
Patience and Persistence are Great Tools for Tracing Your Roots
By Sue Botos
It was a family reunion somewhat reluctantly attended by nationally acclaimed genealogist Dr. Deborah Abbott that opened the door to what has become her passion.
“My grandparents never talked too much about the past, but my grandmother used to tell me she and her sister both had granddaughters named Deborah,” Abbott recalled recently before holding a workshop at the Lakewood Public Library.
Abbott — a member of the board of trustees of the Ohio Genealogical Society and past president of the African-American Genealogical Society — says she met her great aunt once, but it wasn’t until she attended the reunion in North Carolina several years ago that she discovered members from that branch of her family.
“I got down there and there were people walking around that looked just like my grandmother and they knew everyone in the room,” Abbott remembers, adding that of her great-aunt’s 14 children, she knew only two.
“They were talking about people I never heard of. I realized I knew zero. I had to figure out what to do,” Abbott says.
So began a journey that led her to the Library of Congress in Washington, D.C., as well as the Western Reserve Historical Society, which houses census records for the county dating back to the 1800s.
Untangling your family’s roots can be daunting, but experts say patience and an open mind can uncover some fascinating facts, and maybe a few skeletons in the closet.
“Start with yourself and move backward,” advises Abby O’Neill, a research assistant at the Cuyahoga County Library’s Fairview Park Branch, which offers one of the most extensive collections of historic records and documents such as court records, census counts and local history.
Keep in mind that some records and recollections may be unreliable....
For people like Ray Brown, work looks a lot like play. Here are a few honest-to-goodness jobs compiled by Wil Fulton from thrillist.com.
Ice Cream Taster — The ultimate “cool job,” these folks mix the magic concoctions of ice cream, candy and other goodies into frozen fantasies. Not great for the waistline, but good for morale.
Netflix Tagger — Have you binged on more episodes of “Fuller House” than you want to admit? Think about becoming a Netflix Tagger, and get paid to watch TV. These part-time employees watch shows and movies through Netflix streaming, then associate content with various tags, helping the service recommend shows to viewers based on what they have previously watched.
Private Island Caretaker — For those planning a retirement that includes sun and surf, consider being a private island caretaker. Those who do this love the tropical paradise life, but note that while there are obvious benefits, it helps to be handy — and in good shape — as property owners expect all to be in shipshape when they arrive for their holiday.
Fortune Cookie Writer — Like to give advice? Do you excel at choosing lucky numbers? Donald Lau, who has been crafting fortunes for Wonton Foods, manufacturer of fortune cookies (among other Chinese cuisine) is stepping down after 30 years because he says he has run out of ideas. So if you have some creative writing ability, this could be the way the cookie crumbles.
Google Trike/Street View Team — Like to cycle? Want to travel? Maybe joining the Google Street View Trike Team is up your alley. This job involves pulling a Google Maps camera behind a three-wheeler through cities all over the world. There are also positions for folks who feel hoofing it is more their speed.
Panda Nanny — If you have experience babysitting the grandchildren, you may have what it takes to become a Panda Nanny....
REMEMBER GETTING CARDED? We couldn’t wait to be old enough to see an R-rated movie or buy a beer without showing proof of age. “The Exorcist” is on TV and 3.2 beer is a relic from the ’80s. But an I.D. is still fun to flash if you’re looking for a deal. Check out aarp.org for member discounts at national chains. We’ve got plenty here in Northeast Ohio, too. Savings on food, fun, travel, services and more abound for older adults. We’ve put together a local list of places that are free or have reduced prices or other benefits. Don’t be shy; it never hurts to ask about senior discounts.
NATIONAL PARK SERVICE
U.S. residents 62 and older can purchase a lifetime pass for admission to over 2,000 sites for $10. The pass admits the owner and passengers in a noncommercial vehicle to pay-per-car sites, or admits the owner and three adults (under 16 is always free). Passes can be purchased online (nps.gov) or at sites.
Concerts, plays and sporting events at local high schools are often free for seniors. Come and watch these hard-working kids turn hours of practice into great performances. The Cleveland Institute of Music (cim.edu) also offers free concerts by students and faculty throughout the year.
Community and even some professional theaters such as Karamu House in Cleveland and Ensemble Theatre in Cleveland Heights offer ticket discounts for seniors.
Churches also sponsor free concerts. The Rocky River Presbyterian Church hosts an artist series, which during the holidays featured the Cleveland Orchestra Youth Chorus. Next up is variety show vocalist Logan Wells.
Ever want to learn a foreign language or create a masterpiece? Ohio’s four-year universities and two-year colleges allow residents 60 or older to audit classes at no cost depending on space availability (paying students get the first chance) and instructor approval....