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Giving back is second nature to Santosh “Toshi” Hayre, 82. A resident at Buckner Parkway Place, a faith-based senior living community in Houston, Hayre retired more than 15 years ago and decided to devote her free time to volunteering. She devotes her time at the senior living community, church and Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center, where she was recently recognized for surpassing 21,000 volunteer hours. On top of volunteering, she knits hats for newborns and shawls for patients at the hospital booties, and for residents living in skilled nursing at the senior living community. She is part of the knitting group at the community and her church, and she also donates her knitted items to local charities. Since she started more than a decade ago, she has made more than 5,000 items. Hayre says giving back and helping others runs in her family, and she plans to continue volunteering as long as she can.

“Giving back is something I enjoy doing. It really warms my heart to see something I’ve made benefit others,” said Hayre. “I am a people person, so I love to volunteer and be around others. Memorial Hermann Memorial City Medical Center is one of the top hospitals in the country, and seeing the care they give to people each and every day is inspiring. While 21,000 hours and 5,000 items is a lot, I have no plans to stop. I want to reach 30,000 hours and 10,000 items. Parkway Place has been very supportive of my volunteering. They encourage me to continue to go to the hospital, my church, participate in programs at the community, make the items and spread joy to others. After Hurricane Harvey when I lost my home and belongings, the community showed me that someone is always going to be there for me. They taught me a lot, and I hope to pass what I’ve learned on to others as I continue to volunteer.”

Volunteering has many benefits for seniors, including reducing stress, improving mood and lowering the risk of developing high blood pressure. Knitting also promotes healthy living by improving hand-eye coordination and keeping your brain sharp. Parkway Place encourages residents to participate in community and outside programs that keep them active. The community understands the importance of addressing the needs of the whole person. The residents can choose from a variety of diverse activities, including outings, crafting events, music therapy, pet therapy, and a wide variety of fitness classes designed to keep residents engaged both physically and mentally.

“Living at a senior living community doesn’t mean you have to leave your independent, active life behind, and Toshi is the perfect example of that,” said Susan Phelps, executive director at Buckner Parkway Place. “We love to see her involved in the community and giving back to others. Reaching more than 21,000 volunteers hours is a true accomplishment, and we look forward to helping her reach her next goal of 30,000. She truly makes a difference in the lives of others, and we hope her efforts inspire others to find a new hobby and live an active lifestyle in retirement.”

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