Sometimes it seems like volunteering is just like a job, but without the pay or benefits. Makes you want to jump right in, doesn't it? Yet without volunteers, many of our programs, agencies and services would grind to a halt.

I've met a lot of volunteers over the years in a variety of settings, be it schools, food banks, non-profit agencies or just community folks jumping in where they can. And I've been amazed at the wisdom and effort that's available out there on a volunteer basis. A lot of people just like to help - thankfully so.

Some people retire and find that they may have retired from their long-term employment, but not from life; and life means more experience. You have to admire an attitude that says: "I've been there and done that. What else is out there for me to learn and do?" Like I said, amazing.

I know of some individuals who even volunteer to learn about insurance matters in order to help others navigate through their Medicare Part D, supplemental health plans and so on - now I find that truly amazing! However, if you're one of these folks, have I got a deal for you!

The Statewide Health Insurance Benefits Advisors (SHIBA) Helpline is looking for you. SHIBA Helpline is a free service through the Office of the Insurance Commissioner and provides counseling for folks who need help navigating through the whole health care arena. Volunteers are trained, relatively extensively, and have ongoing update trainings on a monthly basis in order to help others assess their coverage, make educated choices and avoid fraud. And we're looking for volunteers for both ends of the county, so if you're out there in Raymond, South Bend, or anywhere in between, you are needed!

Sound like something you're looking for - learning new information and helping others? Come on in, and join other folks just like yourself that are out there doing the stuff.

For more information or to just jump in, give our office in Long Beach (642-3634 or 888-571-6558) a call and ask for Nikki Howard - or go to extension 14 if you hit the voice message. You can also e-mail her at (

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