The Fulfilling Life of a Volunteer

by Together Counts Partner | March 31, 2016 at 12:46 pm | comments

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“Gardening is the best hobby to have. You get exercise, you’re grounded, and it’s very humbling. We get to see how big nature is and how little we are,” says Mary McFerson.

As a former researcher in community nutrition at BJC, Mary understands what living an active life and filling your body with healthy foods is all about – something that the Together Counts program for active, healthy living discusses daily. She devotes some of her spare time to caring for her garden with over 20 different fruits and vegetables combined.

“I finally got the chance to share what I have learned over the years with children and it has been so fulfilling,” she says.

Mary believes that being a volunteer for CATCH Healthy Habits has given her so much opportunity to remain active, both physically and in her community. She has been able to share her passion, inspire, and give the children a new direction toward living healthier. This experience hasn’t just marked one child, or two, but their families and their friends. Teaching healthy habits can be catching!

This summer, OASIS partnered with the Strength and Honor Mentoring Program (SAH) to offer an opportunity at EarthDance Farms in Ferguson. The collaboration included elements of CATCH Healthy Habits and the SAH focus on the cultivating appreciation for good lifestyle choices and teamwork. Other intergenerational activities such as reading with volunteers and dancing were also part of the program.

Mary says she enjoyed the experience as much as the kids – every second of it.

“I’ll never forget the first day at EarthDance,” says Mary. “We were doing one of our activities and this boy had a surprised look on his face. He looked at me and said ‘Wow! You can still move?’”

Mary has been volunteering with CATCH Healthy Habits for a year now and has never felt better. She is more active and has had the powerful opportunity to share her healthy eating lifestyle with children. She says, “There’s not a more satisfying emotion than creating that domino effect on children to embrace a healthier life at a young age.” Her favorite part of the program is simply the one-to-one interaction with the kids.

“What a phenomenal experience it is to get a glimpse of their world with their fascination and curiosity,” she says.

CATCH Healthy Habits is the nation’s largest evidence-based, intergenerational health program.  The program has impacted more than 23,000 children and 8,600 adults nationwide. The program is sponsored nationally by Anthem Foundation, and in Missouri by Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield Foundation. This article was originally published on the OASIS Blog.

For more fun ideas on how to get up and active take a look at these other posts from Together Counts!