Volunteer Spotlight: Gordon Hay
RSVP-Northern Virginia volunteer Gordon Hay says he was at a loss when he retired, regarding where to find volunteer opportunities. "I will never forget my first phone call to RSVP in 2012," says Gordon, a Falls Church resident who now volunteers for two of RSVP nonprofit partners, Capital Caring in Arlington and The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, based in Falls Church.
"I just called out of the blue not knowing what response I was going to get, and I spent a half hour on a wonderful conversation with a woman (with RSVP) who gave me all kinds of information on how to volunteer in the community through RSVP," he says. "I will never forget that call because it got me started in the right direction," he says.
Gordon's lifework followed a path of helping others. He started out working in the child welfare field before moving into a career in healthcare, working for one of the region's largest hospital systems' oncology department. "For people who have retired, I think it is important for people to feel productive and to give life meaning, to give life purpose and there are so many, many volunteer opportunities out there," he says.
At least one afternoon each week, Gordon volunteers in an administrative role, usually staffing the front desk at Capital Caring's Halquist Center in Arlington. "At Capital Caring, there are a number of really great volunteer opportunities," Gordon says. "I chose something where there is a really great need, that is to be an administrative help."
The Halquist Center is open 24 hours a day, every day of the week. As a volunteer receptionist, Gordon is the first person people will see when the enter the hospice center. He says he makes sure everyone walking in the door gets to the right place. Gordon's kind and empathetic face is comforting to the family of patients who are dealing with perhaps the most trying periods of their lives. "I know what they are dealing with when they come here," he says, thanks to his 24 years of experience working with cancer patients in a hospital oncology department.
Why does Gordon encourage others to volunteer with RSVP? He says he is drawn to the variety of opportunities RSVP offers but also because of the support each individual volunteer receives from the RSVP staff. "No question," Gordon says, "when you need them, they are there. That's nice to know that I have an organization behind me. I have met the (RSVP) staff. They are competent, they are motivated, their energy, is like I wish I had some of that energy," he adds.
Gordon says volunteering is a continuation of what he has done all of his life: helping people, something he truly enjoys and treasures. To listen to a podcast featuring Gordon Hay and his reflections on RSVP, senior volunteerism, Capital Caring and The Literacy Council of Northern Virginia, please visit the RSVP Northern Virginia YouTube page here.