Cary Hodous has always been a hands-on person.
After retiring early at 61 years old due to a heart problem in 2017, he knew he wanted to stay engaged with his community any way he could. The answer? Volunteering, specifically at InMotion and FAIRE-CLE.
At InMotion, he is a volunteer coach, supervising activities and helping clients keep their balance while exercising with Parkinson’s disease. He also coaches boxing classes. At FARE-CLE, which drives cognitively impaired people to their jobs, appointments, activities and errands, Hodous keeps himself busy through the whole week, for which he gets paid a small fee.
CJN: What made you want to get involved with these organizations?
Hodous: At first, I was looking for somewhere to volunteer. I was helping at University Hospitals running blood samples to the lab and back, and I was able to visit people one on one and learn their experiences. And then I started volunteering at UH’s vaccination center because it was the only way to get into the hospital. And then someone told me about InMotion, and I thought it was great. It feels very rewarding to get in there and help people. It’s the same with driving. The eight or nine people I drive around, you develop relationships with them. It’s rewarding. I’d much rather do something rewarding than busywork.
CJN: What does volunteering mean to you?
Hodous: I retired early because of my heart problem. I was playing tennis one day and technically died on the court. A couple of women started CPR immediately and someone ran inside to get a defibrillator. I was shocked seven times because my heart kept stopping. At that point, I got really lucky. Since my wife and I had already gone through losing our spouses, she told me it was time to retire and that we should enjoy our lives because we could be gone tomorrow. So, I retired and sold my business – but I needed something to fill my time. Volunteering is doing the trick.
CJN: How has volunteering impacted your life?
Hodous: It is rewarding and brings me a lot of satisfaction. When you’re working, you feel good about yourself. You’re working and you’re successful, and that makes you feel good about yourself. But when you retire, you lose that. Volunteering helped me find that again.
CJN: What role does Judaism play?
Hodous: One of the Jewish credos is always to help others. It’s about tikkun olam and that’s it for me. You always have to give back. I look at all of these people with Parkinson’s, and they’re all on different levels. I look at them because they were successful and then their lives changed. You just feel lucky for what you have because it could happen to you. You want to show them respect because they’re all good people and still have things to contribute.
CJN: Why should other retirees consider volunteering?
Hodous: Volunteering keeps you doing things and helps you retain a sense of worth. If you don’t need money but you want to keep doing things to impact your community, it’s a great way to do it. Plus, volunteering is flexible. My wife is also retired. She’s a baby cuddler at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital in the ICU. She just loves it. She’ll tell me she could be holding a four-pound baby with tubes everywhere, but when you’re holding them and talking to them, they calm down. Like us, just find something you like doing. It doesn’t have to be in a medical setting like ours. If you have a hobby, you can make it work.
Besides volunteering, Hodous is a big fan of traveling. After doing some traveling stateside during the pandemic, he’s ready to do a bigger trip – perhaps an overseas river cruise with his wife.
“We do so much traveling to visit our kids, so maybe once a year we want to do something that isn’t that,” he said. “We just want to travel and are looking forward to enjoying it. I might not be able to advise others on how to get their fulfillment. But, I am just happy to have found mine.”