A new chapter in life: Volunteering in retirement


To say Mel Skiles is amazingly fit would be an understatement.

Mel Skiles “I’ve done something ever since I was a young kid. “I’m 72 years old.”

The former radiologist, you heard him, is 72. Married to Sandra. The couple moving to the North Carolina mountains to be closer to their grandchildren.

Mel Skiles: “I retired on February 2011 and 2 weeks later I started the Appalachian trial”

Hiking the two-thousand-one-hundred-eighty-one-mile trek would be the fitness challenge of his life.

Mel Skiles: “That in itself was a life-changing experience for me. It was the hardest thing I ever did, but the most wonderful thing I’ve done.

He's harnessed his passion.

Mel Skiles: “I take rakes and all kinds of things to suit up.”

As a certified chainsaw operator. clearing trails for others, as a volunteer with the Carolina Mountain Club.

Mel Skiles: “It’s like I’m in there with nature seeing the physical world and I’m not stressed out about daily activities or what I need to do with my schedule.”

Rebecca Chaplin is a community outreach director with AARP says “he's a great example of being physically active while he's also being socially engaged and connected to nature.”

"Connecting to nature," she says is known to "reduce blood pressure."

Rebecca Chaplin: "But also volunteering is said to reduce the incidence of heart disease. Being a part of anything that gives them excitement they're gonna increase their "serotonin" and increase their connectivity with the community."

Chaplin has spent her own career helping others after their working careers are over.

Once you move beyond that stage of life making money, power prestige. What are we really here for? We're here to give our gifts and to be our passion in the world.”

Mel Skiles: “My mind is free and I feel I don’t have any aches or pains being 72 and not having aches and pains I’m fortunate I feel gratitude for that.”

Mel's story of youthful vitality may inspire others to find their passion - something this 72 year old's convinced can lead to a great second and third act. For sinclair cares, i'm kimberly king.

Research shows older adults who donate their time have lower mortality rates, less depression, and higher self-esteem.

The AARP says one report found states with a high volunteer rate have lower incidences of heart disease.

A study by Johns Hopkins University shows volunteering has significant brain benefits for aging adults, because it gets you moving and thinking at the same time. For links to the study and more on volunteering in a field you love, go to Sinclair Cares at

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