The Power of Giving Back with Resident Susan Wellnitz

Resident, Susan Wellnitz

Volunteering is making waves among Brookdale communities. Brookdale resident Susan Wellnitz, 76, has personally experienced the transformative power of volunteering. She had trouble coping after the loss of her husband three years ago.

“I missed my husband absolutely too much,” she said. Her nephew suggested she try a short stay at Freedom Plaza Sun City Center. “I tried it a month, and I loved it! So I decided to move here.”

The move was life changing. Along with combating the loneliness she felt, it also created opportunities for her to discover a new passion — volunteering. She became a fixture at Brookdale community plays, assisting with the costumes, and even acting too. She also donated a curio cabinet to the community, and each month she fills the cabinet with decorations that coordinate with the Brookdale Celebrates themes.

Her giving spirit isn’t limited to the people within her Brookdale community either. Every Tuesday morning she heads to her local church, the Church on the Green, to help other women sew heart-shaped pillows and teddy bears to deliver to adults and children in hospice care. Twice a week she visits with a friend, who is visually impaired, and reads to him.

Susan is the perfect example that it’s never to later to find your passion or discover the amazing benefits of volunteering.

“Volunteering — whether it is at church, with a friend or here at our community — lifts my spirits and brings me joy! I look forward to volunteering, knowing that my days will be fulfilled and others may benefit from what I have to offer,” she said. 

Benefits of Volunteering

Research has proven that giving back has many benefits — emotionally, spiritually, but also physically as well. A 2013 study from Carnegie Mellon University, published in Psychology and Aging, found that adults over age 50 were less likely to develop high blood pressure if they volunteered on a regular basis. Another 2012 study in the journal Health Psychology found that participants who volunteered with some regularity and with the intent to help others actually lived longer.


Sources: Harvard Medical School,; American Psychological Association,

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