From teaching to volunteering: Finding a way to help others during retirement
After 33 years of teaching at Memorial High School in Eau Claire, Ken Ripp found volunteering to be a seamless transition for him in retirement. As a volunteer at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, he is commonly called Mr. Ripp during his shifts by former students who are now employees or patients.
Ken has been a STEP Force volunteer for nine years at the Luther Campus in Eau Claire. As a volunteer, his primary responsibility is to transport and escort patients throughout the clinic and hospital. Answering patients’ questions and helping them to feel less anxious brings him the most satisfaction.
“Helping patients feel comfortable and relaxed while I guide them to where they need to be is my favorite part of STEP Force volunteering,” he says.
In addition to working directly with patients and staff, STEP volunteers also perform tasks such as delivering bed linens, delivering medical supplies and prescriptions throughout the hospital and clinic, and transporting instruments to and from central processing to numerous departments. “Each day I am impressed by how grateful the staff are for the duties we perform for them. It seems as though we are one supportive team,” he says. Ken also praises his Tuesday and Thursday STEP Force teammates. “They are all enjoyable people, and we have become friends. We support each other, and they even put up with many of my so-called jokes,” he says.
Ken encourages people who like helping others and being active to volunteer at STEP Force. “It is common to walk anywhere from four to six miles in a four hour shift,” he says. “But the energy you get from giving is all you need to make it happily through each shift.”
Like Ken, you, too, can volunteer at Mayo Clinic Health System. You must be at least 14 years old to volunteer. All ability levels are welcome.