Retirement offers more time for volunteer work

Dr. Jack Zimmerman spends his days juggling his many duties for more than a handful of organizations and his evenings catching up on emails and phone calls. At 84, Zimmerman may have been retired for the last 14 years, but he’s still got a heavy workload – of volunteer work, that is.

Zimmerman was chief of surgery at Church Home and Hospital for 32 years, and he also spent time working at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He and his wife, Doris, who moved to the Roland Park Place retirement community in Baltimore eight years ago, stay active and involved by giving back to others.

“One thing retirement does for you is give you more time for volunteering,” Zimmerman said. “I’m a big believer in that we come into this world to leave it a better place. You can’t always do all you want to do with your full-time job. That’s where volunteering comes in.”

Zimmerman has a resume full of organizations for which he volunteers. The doctor has been on the Ethics Committee for the State Medical Society since years before retirement. He is also a member of the Health Professions Committee at Johns Hopkins. This program is designed to help Hopkins pre-med students get into medical school, assisting them with course selections and acting as a mentor.

At Roland Park Place, Zimmerman is one of only two residents who serve on the board of directors. He is actively involved on several committees at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Ruxton, an Episcopal church, and is president of a men’s luncheon club of approximately 50 members, organizing a speaker and luncheon once a month. If that’s not enough, the octogenarian has recently started writing articles for the “Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons,” discussing his work as a pioneer in hospice care.

Zimmerman estimates that he spends at least 20 hours a week on volunteer work, more in March through July when he is in the thick of helping the Hopkins students.

“I know the day is going to come when I can’t do all of this, so I want to do all I can now,” said Zimmerman. “I have a very supportive wife. I couldn’t do any of this without her support.”

Over the years, Doris Zimmerman has given her fair share of volunteer hours as well, working at Medfield School, Paul’s Place soup kitchen and at Good Shepherd. She is also a floor representative at Roland Park Place, where they reside with their rescued Whippet, Spunky.

A nurse trained at Hopkins, Doris Zimmerman later became a registered parliamentarian, running large meetings and conferences for various organizations. She also had time to pen a best-selling book, “Roberts Rules of Plain English.” She retired the same year as her husband.

Close to her heart these days is an organization she works with called Women at the Well.

“Women are always giving, and they don’t take time for themselves,” she said. “In earlier days, the only time women got together was at the well to get water. The rest of the time they were working. This group helps women grow spiritually, and many young women are involved.”

“If you are in a retirement community,” Dr. Zimmerman said, “it is important to have contact with younger people who are doing things and accomplishing things. You need it. You’ll know a lot better what is going on in the world.”

Next month, the Zimmermans will take a few days off from volunteering to celebrate Doris Zimmerman’s 80th birthday with their family in the Bahamas.

“If I have one problem with volunteering,” said Dr. Zimmerman, “it’s that I am spread a little thin, but I enjoy it.”

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Catholic Review

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.