For Cosundra Yancy, volunteering goes deeper than simply giving back and feeling useful: It’s her calling, and an inseparable aspect of her faith. “I love to see people happy,” she says. “If you have a need, I’m there for you.”
Raised Methodist in a two-parent home with a strong extended family, volunteering has been as much a part of Cosundra’s life as brushing her teeth. Her family, including grandparents, parents and siblings, was always active volunteering in the local community, and she feels incomplete if she’s not helping others.
“Volunteering makes me happy. People who don’t volunteer are missing so much.”
During my time with Cosundra, I was constantly drawn to the warmth and brightness of her smile. Watching her smile as she talked about her volunteering, it felt like she was reliving the joy she feels when helping others. Listening to her and watching her smile gave legitimacy beyond words to what she had to say.
Cosundra has two bedrock beliefs that drive her volunteering efforts. One, everyone should have food, clothing, shelter and medical care. And two, seniors, small children and animals need to be loved and cared for because of their vulnerability. To her, how people are treated is as important as the treatment itself. Or, as Cosundra puts it, “Be kind to each other. Put others before yourself.”
Two pivotal influences helped shape Cosundra’s view of the world. One, growing up and attending school (she holds a bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a master’s in Public Administration) in a diverse community gave her the opportunity to experience others unencumbered by preconceptions. And two, she spent time in Germany as an exchange student at age 17. As she travelled all over Europe (missing only Paris, where she would still like to visit), European history became real and “opened my heart,” she says, smiling at the memory.
People need to travel and encounter other cultures, she believes, to gain perspective, embrace new experiences, and avoid the constricting staleness of provinciality.
The diversity of volunteer opportunities is what drew Cosundra to RSVP (Retired & Senior Volunteer Program) four years ago. “There’s something for everyone,” she says. As an RSVP volunteer she has worked in food banks, assisted with the Hire America’s Heroes program (she has deep respect for veterans), helped with Solid Ground special events, and promoted RSVP at numerous resource fairs.
She also volunteers for several programs outside the realm of RSVP. Says Jan Hancock, RSVP Program Coordinator, of Cosundra, “She has the true volunteer spirit and the ability to see the innate good and kindness in everyone.”
Cosundra is happy for the opportunity to help others and encourages everyone to join RSVP and get busy. “RSVP is a terrific vehicle for giving back,” she says, because “volunteers can easily pick and choose how and where they want to help, and fit it into the amount of time they have available.”
She also sees volunteering as the perfect remedy for the boredom many seniors feel: “How can you have nothing to do when there are so many needs out there?”
Cosundra lives alone and keeps things simple and unencumbered by choice. In her spare time she sings (she finds singing a beautiful way to express emotion), she reads (mainly history), and she attends to her Bible studies.
“I love my life. I am truly blessed,” she says…smiling.
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