Alice Cook was selected as May’s volunteer of the month in the Explorer’s new monthly column called “Helping Hand” for Northwest Tucson.
Cook originally approached the Explorer with a story idea, but it soon became apparent that Cook was a story of her own. Now retired, Cook said she has been busier in retirement than she ever was working, and considering her lengthy volunteer resume, it’s clear why.
Currently, Cook volunteers for Fatima Women’s Center, Veterans Affairs, Rachel’s Vineyard, Honor Flight, the Catholic Daughters of St. Christopher, Reachout Pregnancy Center, and donates blood at the Red Cross regularly.
“These things need to be done,” said Cook. “I believe we have an innermost part of our soul that says love one another, and help each other. It is just part of natural law that we look out for each other, and we need to respond to that.”
Even before retiring, Cook was responsive to people in need in her career as a registered nurse, serving in Phoenix and Tucson. Now, her professional skills have carried over into many of the volunteer organizations she participates in, such as Fatima and Reachout, where she checks pregnant women for vital signs, amongst other duties.
“She’s an amazing woman,” said Lori Giovannini, Director of Reachout Pregnancy Center. “She’s a woman of service and love, and it shines through in the fact she gives so much of her time and resources.”
Cook said the effect volunteers can have on a community is unparalleled, and she challenges everyone to find a way to become involved.
“Everyone can do something,” she said. “There’s no excuse. You can smile, you can say a kind word. The list is long, and the challenges are many, but we have just as many people to answer the need for volunteering.”
Cook’s next big venture in June will be participation in Honor Flight, where she will serve as an assistant in helping World War II veterans fly to Washington D.C. to see war memorials. It is estimated that a thousand veterans die each day.
“Soon, we won’t have any World War II veterans around, so it’s important to help these veterans now,” she said.
Cook said the benefits of volunteering are not limited to the organizations receiving the help.
“People who volunteer are often healthier, they’ll live longer and healthier lives, and have more quality to their lives,” she said.
Recently, a close friend of Cook’s, named Shirley, was diagnosed with breast cancer. After Shirley underwent chemotherapy, Cook responded by helping her with everyday tasks, and even shaved her own head to match Shirley’s.
“Anytime we go to show or to the store, she’s not the odd man out,” said Cook. “We’re together in this. People need to work together.”
Would you like to nominate someone as next month’s “Helping Hand” volunteer? Please send your nomination to firstname.lastname@example.org. The selected volunteer of the month will receive a complimentary two-fifths page ad in the Explorer Newspaper for a charity of his or her choice.