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Susan E. Busch: Retirement years offer a chance to give back

Looking toward retirement, I attended a planning seminar in which I learned a few procedural tips. Included was a session directing people to reflect on what life would be like after working 40 or more years, stating that some people define themselves by their occupation and flounder without the work structure and tasks of the job. It was recommended that we begin to find outside activities to fill that void.

My husband and I looked at one another and laughed. As he now states, “I don’t know how I did everything I was involved in and worked 40 hours a week, too!” We have both been involved in service organizations over the years and have found that we benefit as much as those we serve.

I have always loved music and began my service in the church over 45 years ago by participating in various music ministries. They helped increase my knowledge of music, liturgy and working with people. I have enjoyed the struggle of learning a challenging piece of music and being rewarded by hearing afterward, ”So beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes.”

The Niagara Frontier Reading Council exists to promote literacy in our community and beyond, as well as to support teachers in their quest to discover new methods and materials to reach their students. During my tenure on the board of directors, the satisfaction of working with colleagues, the joy on a child’s face as he chooses a free book to call his own, and the motivating and wise words of a conference speaker keep me coming back to continue my involvement.

As a character development officer and teacher, I have learned much from the cadets in the Civil Air Patrol program over the past 15 years of my service. From the terms “promposal” and “snackage,” to the use of technology tools, to the value of mentoring teens, I have been continually surprised, enlightened and energized by the youth of today.

Each June, we hold a celebration for those students in CAP who are graduating. A review of their lives in and out of school, as well as their accomplishments in CAP, are highlighted. Watching the growth of these young men and women is amazing and humbling. And the friendships among the other “senior” members will enrich my life for years to come.

And now, I have just accepted a position on the board of the University at Buffalo Women’s Club. What was I thinking? I was thinking that I have met some extraordinary women in the short time I have been involved in this service group. Doctors, librarians, engineers and teachers with vast and varied experiences and stories. They exist to fund the Grace Capen scholarships given to deserving UB sophomores, but members enjoy opportunities to socialize and learn through various activity groups.

I enjoy sharing ideas and yummy snacks in the Book Club. Others participate in Gourmet Groups, the Bridge Club, the Golf Art History Group, the International Club, the Movie Group and others. There is something for everyone.

Lost or bored in retirement? Heck, no! It is not a time to sit back and do nothing. You have been given the gift of time to continually make new friends and learn new things, as well as give back by serving others. Joining a service organization will enrich your life beyond measure.