By: Robin Trimingham
Whether you worked outside the house or stayed home to raise a family, it’s quite normal to dream of having a whole day to yourself when the kids have left home, or you no longer have to work five days a week.
The notion of being free to do as you please is so quickly filled with hazy ideas of doing all the things that we never seem to have time for that many people are caught off guard when their responsibilities finally do cease, and they suddenly find themselves wondering how to fill the day.
Having more free time than you know what to do with can be as detrimental to your well-being as being overworked, so it’s no wonder that more and more able-bodied expats and seniors are donating their time and skills to the islands many worthy charities.
In addition to being able to make a difference in the lives of others, the physical, emotional, and social aspects of volunteering are a great way to alleviate the pain of empty nest syndrome, or the perceived loss of self-worth sometimes associated with the cessation of meaningful employment.
Of the many charities to choose from is the PALS Thrift Shop on Point Finger Road in Paget which opened about two years ago. Overseen by Thrift Store Manager Joan Cabral and a team of willing volunteers, the shop is an important money raiser for the PALS charity which exists to improve the lives of island cancer patients and their families.
Drop-in on the ladies as they enthusiastically sort boxes of donations on a Tuesday morning, and you will meet a diverse group of women who are doing a lot more than simply volunteering their time; you will meet a group of friends brought together around a common cause.
If you ask what drew them to PALS, the answers you will hear range from wanting to give back after having lost a loved one to cancer, to needing to find a way to keep busy after leaving a job unexpectedly.
“Life is better with activities,” explains Susie. “Working here at the Thrift Shop gives me a reason to get myself up and out of the house. Everyone here is a great friend”.
Lori agrees. After serving for many years as a nurse, she likes knowing that she can still be of help to people who are unwell through her volunteer efforts. “This is our job now”, she explained, “the shop makes lots of money for cancer patients”.
But no matter how they first became a Thrift Shop volunteer, all of the ladies agree that part of the fun of unboxing and pricing the items is the opportunity to announce, “Girls, look what I found!” as you hold up a newfound treasure.
Island residents are very generous with their donations, ensuring that the volunteers never know what might be lurking at the bottom of a box. The ladies have seen their share of designer handbags, new clothes with the labels still attached, and unique children’s toys. Among the rare and more unusual items that have been donated are bits of Bermuda cedar, vintage jewellery and a sterling silver hot water jug.
“It’s very fulfilling to know that we are helping PALS,” remarked Sharon. “We take time to make sure that the store is stocked with lots of good quality items for sale each weekend”.
As a rule, household items, clothes, accessories, and toys that are clean and in good working order are accepted for donation with gratitude on Tuesdays and Thursdays, but it is advisable to call before dropping things off, as the store is occasionally too full to accept more items. Alternatively, if you have a number of items leftover from a House Sale or a business you can arrange for someone to come to see the items to help identify which things are suitable for the shop.
The shop is always looking for more volunteers, and anyone interested in helping out even once a month can fill out the contact form which can be found on the www.pals.bm website or send an email to [email protected]
The PALS Shop is located across from the hospital at 18 Point Finger Road and is open for business Saturdays from 9:00 am to 3:00 pm and Sundays from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. 236-3800.