About a year ago, 67-year-old Lena Clouser wanted to change her life.
Instead of visiting friends and spending time at home, Clouser envisioned an alternative way of spending her time -- a way to sharpenher mind and broaden her abilities.
"Actually, I felt that I was missing something," she said. "I have a lot of spare time, and I didn't want to spend it doing nothing."
Last January, she found something.
One phone call to the Department of Aging, and Clouser was told about the Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), which places individuals over age 60 with non-profit organizations.
The volunteers are matched with an organization in need of their skills, one that suits the amount of time they are willing to work.
Marie Maddox, coordinator of the program, said volunteers like RSVP because of its flexibility and the opportunity to donate their time to a good cause.
"You can only do hobbies and visit grandchildren so much," Maddox said. "They use this to give back tosociety. What they give is invaluable."
RSVP has placed volunteers in such organizations as thrift shops, clothing stores and the state police. The more than 620 volunteers in the program donated 91,465 hours of work last year to groups throughout Anne Arundel, saving theorganizations at least $311,000, Maddox said.
At 8:30 a.m. each Friday, Clouser rides the bus three miles from her Glen Burnie home tothe North County Chamber of Commerce, where she sends correspondenceto local residents and helps co-workers with office tasks.
"It puts us on a better schedule and it makes a big difference," said Lisa Pitt, director of the North County Chamber of Commerce. "We're now getting out correspondence in a timely fashion. It's nice to be able torely on that."
Clouser said she looks forward to coming to work each week and credits the North County Chamber of Commerce with keeping her mind sharp.
"It's rewarding, because when you get older, youfeel like you're losing contact," she said. "I would advise anyone to do it."
Clouser also said she looks forward to the everyday office activity that she misses at home: meeting new people, becoming a member of the office staff, trouble-shooting questions and problems.
"I learn something different every day," she said, "and I've benefited by making many new friends."