What will retirement look like for you?
Golf a few times per week? Lunch with your lady friends? Season tickets to Giants games? Five hours per day on Facebook (it's 10 a.m., just woke up and getting ready to hit Michael’s Crafts to pick up beads and glitter glue for a new project).
Or maybe you’ll be the type who takes an annual cruise?
Retirement for Annamarie Azevedo, a Peninsula Humane Society volunteer, has been one long cruise, yet she hasn’t left the area. Since she retired from the insurance business a year ago, she spends 30 to 40 hours per week cruising Rollins Road in Burlingame on foot with dogs at our new Center for Compassion awaiting adoption.
Keep in mind, this isn’t a person who used to buy a weekly Lotto ticket to dream a little dream about a life spent sucking down fruity drinks on an island.
Turning her volunteer gig into a near full-time deal was the plan she mapped more than three years ago, when she began as a "regular" volunteer who gave a few hours of her time each week. If she's not the front runner for our annual Volunteer of the Year award, I know nothing.
Yet, if she doesn’t receive the honor, she wouldn’t feel snubbed; that’s the kind of person she is.
"Your husband must hate us," I said to her, figuring he felt like the rug was pulled out from under him when she retired on a Friday, then spent most of her time the next week, the week after that and the following 50 weeks as our busiest volunteer.
"No, not at all," Annamarie told me. "He's still working and when he retires, he's going to volunteer here too."
Guess we'll need a new award for Couple of the Year.
If you drive on Rollins Road or visit our new center with any frequency, you've seen Annamarie. She's the petite, athletic, blondish/silverish, perpetually bubbly woman in her early 60 wearing jeans, tennies and our standard green volunteer shirt or jacket.
And of course, a dog at the end of her leash.
She’s eager to chat up anyone about her favorite dogs – and there are always several. Yet she’s the ideal volunteer who gives her time for any work that benefits the organization and our animals. She’s happy simply knowing her work is needed, meaningful and appreciated.
When "they" say the 60s are the new 50s, they have someone just like Annamarie in mind. Retirement has been good to her and good for her.
She proudly says she doesn't take a single medication. Between the shelter dogs she walks and her own two at home, she gets plenty of exercise; equally important, her mental outlook couldn't be rosier. She has a purpose, she has just enough responsibilities and truly knows that the work she does everyday has a huge impact.
Perhaps best of all, she can see her special projects find their forever homes; she’s often at the center when they leave with adopters. Hard to get all that in the insurance biz.
I used to hear this one more often, before we moved into our new center, but I still get it from time to time. People ask, “how do you work there, it must be sad being around so many homeless animals and knowing you can’t take all of them home.” My response: how can it not be an uplifting place with the work we get to do and the selfless, talented, compassionate and generous people we attract.
People like Annamarie.
She and many others who share her qualities are every bit as important as the snazzy new center we opened.
To join this amazing group of Peninsula Humane Society volunteers, please contact Brian Probst at (650) 340-7022, ext. 328 or Bprobst@PHS-SPCA.org. Our first step is having prospective volunteers attend an orientation.