Pauls Valley Democrat
Pauls Valley, Oklahoma —
Making life worth living is as much personal effort as it is due to the those who help each other along. Yet, it’s no great secret how bringing an active quality can make all the difference in the addition of those years.
The Senior Citizens Center in Wacker Park has been the difference for Pauls Valley transplant Diane Burdine, who like many residents came to the community center in search of finding a new purpose. All it took was a caring friend who suggested the near daily retreat and what started out as a coping solution turned into a pillar of strength and compassion.
“Acquaintances are important when you’re alone, it’s really nice when you start recognizing people,” said Burdine, who said meeting people helped her start anew after her husband passed away before coming to Pauls Valley. “I can go out and meet new people and make a new life.”
When this revitalized purpose for Burdine began about three years ago it took time to get used to being on her own, but has since grown into a way she can appreciate how much she still has. Instead of just attending to fulfill one of her favorite hobbies of putting together puzzles she has become a regular volunteer, helping along those who aren’t as able.
Burdine’s duties at the senior site vary like anyone who wishes to get involved there, but have culminated in holding a position on the senior site council as a secretary/treasurer. Some of her regular duties include carrying items like food or drinks to disabled visitors and helping keep track of donations as well as chairing the decorating committee.
“There’s a lot to do and there’s so many people not able to anymore,” said Burdine. “Some just worked their whole lives and contributed their share and that’s OK... I’m thankful for the health I’ve got.”
Burdine’s also discovered how her spiritual role has taken a direction she never would have expected, offering advice she might have only previously given to her own children. One such thing she will tell people young or old is to make sure their spouse knows they love them every chance they get because one never knows when the last moment together will come.
Burdine does not feel the regret of not letting her husband know this and said part of making the transition to helping people here was because of some of the volunteer work like church services at nursing homes she did with him. She added how she plans to keep offering this ministry, whether it be prayer or just making someone’s day a bit brighter.
“I guess if I’m going to witness, I might as well do it,” said Burdine, noting how God has been a major motivating factor each step of the way. “He has taken me to different people to talk to.”
While she would not have a problem with sticking around contributing for years to come, she will be bidding farewell to the place that’s been so special come the spring. However, she does not plan on falling into old habits of closing her self off and will be moving back to her home state of Idaho where she lived before arriving here.
In the end, Burdine will remain in the area until the center finds a replacement to fill her role and she is approved for a senior living home. She hopes people realize how much of an asset the senior center can be and how they depend as much on people helping as giving what they can, including offering what can sometimes be a senior’s only meal of the day.
“I’ve always heard if you help people that it helps you and it’s true... it really does,” said Burdine. “I knew I needed to do something.”