Volunteering in any capacity is an invaluable contribution to a community but on average Americans volunteer 32 hours each year, or just over half an hour per week. Don Luke volunteers on average twenty times this amount; over 10 hours a week!
The first thing you notice about Don is the beautiful calmness in his voice; making one immediately feel cheerful and at ease. Although Don is incredibly humble, stressing his volunteering doesn’t take up too much of his week, it reads very differently! After working in the technical world of airborne radar in El Segundo, Don wanted to spend his retirement working with people and began his volunteering.
Every Wednesday morning he’s at a Chinatown clinic freeing up the medical staff’s time to spend with their patients. He then rushes off to teach English to seniors at an adult day care center. Thursday afternoons are spent tutoring math to a homeless seventh-grader and Friday mornings are set aside to spend with a hospice patient. Most of these patients have no family locally. It is when Don explains that he is simply there to learn from them and listen if they want to talk, that you realize what an incredible source of happiness he is to so many people. To top off Don’s week he and his wife are volunteers for ‘Meals on Wheels’; allowing seniors to live healthily and happily in their own homes for as long as possible. Ironically, his regular running past the Beach Cities Health District (BCHD) building on Prospect Avenue led him to its volunteer program.
So, four years ago, Don added BCHD Errand Volunteering to his list and every Thursday morning he drives a local senior, Nelya Mayziln to Trader Joe’s to take some pressure away from her family and give her the level of independence she desires. “It’s not just about taking her to the store but providing a sympathetic ear that may brighten her day,” explains Don. Nelya comments, “I have had the pleasure of being matched with Don for the past three years; he’s such a hardworking and caring person. I am so grateful for Don and I look forward to seeing him each week. I am very appreciative for his services, he deserves every bit of recognition.”
For anyone considering volunteering, Don highly recommends BCHD. “I’ve volunteered for many organizations over the years and therefore have experience of how others do it. The level of training and support BCHD offers is unique. The team really knows how to do it properly.”
Most people would think that after Don’s week of volunteering, he’d want a restful weekend, but not for Don! He still runs, and when I spoke to him, was about to embark on his annual marathon relay race in Seattle with his brothers. But of course, I’m sure he’ll be back by Sunday for his regular commitment of overseeing fifth grade Sunday School and writing the church’s newsletter with his wife! Few people are lucky enough to have someone like Don in their community!