Post Retirement: Mary Tomchay Reinvents and Lends a Helping Hand

“The unselfish effort to bring cheer to others will be the beginning of a happier life for ourselves.” — Helen Keller

In a recent article I wrote for Thrive Global, I suggested three way people could cultivate joy. One dear friend, Mary Tomchay reached out to kindly compliment my article and I interviewed her because of the incredible joy she exudes as she describes the way she reinvented herself after retiring.  EnJOY…

1.  Before retiring, what type of work did you do?

I always had administrative jobs:  Drug Enforcement Administration, legal secretarial jobs as in United States Attorneys Office,  private sector,  United States Courts and the last twenty years I worked for a federal judge as his Administrative Legal Assistant. I loved all my jobs very much and held all my employers in very high regard, except for the private sector positions I held.  I found that group to be unethical and uncivilized.  Working for the judge was a dream job. I adored the judge and loved and respected all my co workers working in chambers.

2. How long did you work in your job before retirement?

I retired after 41 years.

3. Did you always want to volunteer or is this something you decided to do once you retired?

The idea of volunteering came to me when I was taking care of my elderly mother in her assisted living homes and finally a nursing home for Alzheimer’s patients.  I felt so much compassion for her and the others.  I was so glad to be of some help and comfort. I found myself assisting the staff prepare for meals and fetching drinks,  etc. for those who asked.  I would massage my mother’s hands and legs with luxurious lotions and she would be so delighted.  Others held out their hands for their turn and so I would do the same for them and do that all day.  Once I even took over an exercising class when the instructor had an emergency.  It was fun and we all had a good laugh with lots of exaggerated groans.

4. Describe your volunteer gig (what it is; what you do; if it is fulfilling, etc.)

I wanted to volunteer in a nursing home but to be honest,  it was way too sad for me. For the last 11 years I have been working at a hospital in Weston,  Florida.  The staff is appreciative and my coworkers are very compassionate people.  It is a fast moving, extremely busy day but I do come home feeling fulfilled and valued.  I spend the day managing a variety tasks.  I answer any and all questions from visitors and patients, direct them to wherever they should go, escorting them if they seem confused or need extra help and provide a wheel chair.  I assist busy admissions personnel with patients who need help with radiology kiosk check-ins and often walk or wheel them to radiology. There are times when wheel chair patients need help through the cafeteria with selections and ushered to a table.
I train new volunteers and give tours of the hospital/clinic facility so they become more familiar with surroundings and can therefore become a better volunteer. Often,  it is necessary to call taxi or transportation services for a visitor, assist with hotel stays. We volunteers try and notice when an elderly or any patient struggling might need help. We become  advocates for lone, struggling patients who are frustrated with appointment scheduling problems.  We assist security and
do a million other things. Since I’ve been there so long. I am comfortable with the hospital layout, know short cuts in emergency situations and enjoy reassuring patients they are in good hands.  I try to make their experience a good one and life a little easier.

5. Do you feel like you’ve reinvented yourself? (another chapter, etc.).

Another chapter is exactly how I feel.  I was proud of my legal career, but volunteering has given me more self satisfaction and pleasure.  It feels good to make someone else’s life easier.
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One thought on “Post Retirement: Mary Tomchay Reinvents and Lends a Helping Hand

  • September 18, 2020 at 8:37 am

    Is not wanting to reinvent yourself a reinvention. “When” i retire after 49 years of serving my community, I would like to use the next stage of life as time to take care of myself.


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