Nov 2003
Vol. 4 No. 12
Point Loma resident, Walt Bailey, 89, is one of those wonderful beings who makes a positive difference on our planet by taking care of others. Always has, always will – and he suspects it must be in his genes because it’s definitely part of his being.

“My wife, Eloise, calls me a professional volunteer and we laugh about the idea that I’m possibly missing a gene…the “just say no” one!” Walt laughed. “But I think I must have been programmed to give because I grew up helping others and have just continued it all my life.”

There are countless beneficiaries of Walt’s giving – from family to strangers, businesses and non-profit groups and just about everything in between. In fact, when stray cats start adopting you --- you begin to wonder if maybe you do have a special gift of caring for others that even animals recognize, too.

“This pretty little calico cat just appeared one day out of no where and decided this was going to be home,” Walt remembered. “Nobody recognized her so I of course took her in and named her ‘Boots.’ She follows me everywhere – and she even sits, shakes, and rolls over on command! She’s definitely become a fun, furry friend.”

Not only does Walt have a special way with animals, but with people too. He has an innate ability and desire to make others happy and says that it’s the joy he sees in others that inspires him to keep on giving.

Being from a close-knit family, Walt was actively involved in Boy Scouts with his sons but stayed on for several years even after they left the program. He was a Search & Rescue volunteer for over 30 years, is one of the founders of General Dynamics’ retiree club (who he worked for as a tool engineer for over 30 years) and faithfully attends their monthly gatherings, and for the past 31 years has also volunteered at UCSD Hospital--23 years in the Emergency Room, and the last 8 years as a “Cuddler” for premature babies and infants with medical problems.

As much joy as this brings him, Walt is certainly not immune to his own challenges, which makes his giving that much more special. He is the primary caregiver for his wife who was diagnosed with Alzheimers over ten years ago. And with no children or other family living in the area, this is a duty he takes on willingly and lovingly, like all his other giving activities.

“I think it’s a healthy occupation to be a giver,” Walt shared. “When you give, you feel good and I think it promotes good health, too. I’ve always believed in the body/mind connection-- how we think affects how we feel. So feeling good by giving, contributes to living a healthy, long life.”

It obviously would be easier to just sit back and take care of his own things, but Walt says he’d feel incomplete if he didn’t give in other ways too – he wouldn’t know what to do with himself. In many ways, he says his accepting of the way things are and his volunteering are his respite that enables him to feel his efforts help others and are therefore beneficial.

Walt’s giving does make a difference -- and there’s a lot of thanks in that! Thanks for giving – and Happy Thanksgiving too.

Kelly Ferrin is a local gerontologist residing in Carlsbad. She is a certified
AARP retirement specialist, motivational speaker, consultant, and author of a
nationally released book titled, "What's Age Got To Do With It?" For column
ideas contact her at (760)438-2126 or on the internet at
Kelly Ferrin, Gerontologist Lifestyles (760)438-2126 web:

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What's Age Got To Do With It?