- The Washington Times - Monday, November 7, 2005

Retirement community volunteer

finds reward in greeting residents

SYKESVILLE, Md. — Taking long strides through the halls of Fairhaven Continuing Care Retirement Community, Dorothy Fulton smiles and warmly greets everyone she sees.

The five-year resident began greeting as a volunteer, but now she sees it not as a requirement but as something she loves.

She keeps herself busy with nearly 15 other activities, but said greeting others is her favorite.

“See, I make friends with that,” she said. “I like meeting new people.”

Building friendships as a volunteer helped with her induction this year into the Maryland State Senior Citizens Hall of Fame, which was created to recognize the community service of people 60 and older.

Mrs. Fulton, 80, a native New Yorker, moved to Sykesville in 2000 from California, where she worked as a nurse.

She retired in 1994 after 50 years of service and began volunteering at the hospital where she worked.

When she came to Maryland to live in Fairhaven with her sister, she still had a desire to help people and stay active.

“I just wanted something to do, to occupy my time,” she said.

Mrs. Fulton recently married a man she met while volunteering at Fairhaven.

She said she always has had an active lifestyle, and that her volunteer activities serve as a second career.

Sometimes she will drive residents to events, schedule volunteers for parties, pitch in on the lunch lines and arrange dinner parties for new residents.

Other times, she will be in the library reading to the residents with poor vision or visiting residents in the hospital. She has calculated that the time she spends at Fairhaven adds up to about 1,200 hours a year.

“You can make your life what you want to,” Mrs. Fulton said, and she has made her life fun while striving to help others.

When she meets new residents, which she tries to do within 48 hours of their move-in date, she tells them what they can do but never pushes them.

Mrs. Fulton said being active is one of her secrets to youth.

Even though she has considered slowing down and enjoying life with her husband, Don, she said she likely would never quit volunteering entirely.

“I’ve just always enjoyed being busy,” she said. “I think if people get involved with activities that keep them physically and mentally active, it keeps them healthy,” she said.

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