Volunteering keeps me alive

For Dorothy Fisher, helping kids learn good nutrition and get physically active is not the only reason she’s involved in OASIS’ CATCH Healthy Habits program.
“It’s an opportunity for me to get exercise, and increase my understanding of young people.  It’s part of me and it keeps me going,” she says.
Dorothy isn’t one to sit back and wait for something to do.  When the company she worked for was sold and she had to take early retirement, she didn’t waste time in looking for new ways to spend her day.  “I said to myself, I’ve got to do something.”  An article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch on the OASIS intergenerational tutoring program caught her eye, and as if fate had a hand, she then saw a second OASIS article in another local newspaper asking for tutors.  Dorothy responded and was on her way to becoming a full-fledged OASIS volunteer.
It was while she was tutoring for OASIS that Dorothy got an email from one of the volunteer coordinators at her school site regarding a new program OASIS was to pilot—Active Generations. St. Louis was one of several cities in the original pilot, and Dorothy joined in.
In 2011, the program was updated, renamed CATCH Healthy Habits and launched in more cities across the country, thanks to a grant from WellPoint Foundation.
And Dorothy’s still volunteering.  “It’s been really great, I love working with the children, and I think they are really taking it in,” she says. “They know when picking up a celery stick or ice cream whether it’s a ‘Whoa’ or ‘Go’ food … and hopefully they carry that knowledge forward in their lives.”
Some schools no longer have recesses, Dorothy commented, so the after-school CATCH Healthy Habits program may be the first opportunity during the day for kids to get physically activity. “Getting to play the games first energizes them,” she says, “and they’re still excited to make and eat a snack after.”
Dorothy loves to see how much fun the kids have in the program.  “It’s a learning experience, but they’re having a good time,” she says. They’re just as energetic in the nutrition lesson as they are in playing the games. It’s amazing to watch them.”