Rich, who practices the Eastern healing arts in New York City, had been to Thailand several times. As he began approaching age 60, he started thinking about relocating the next phase of his life in a country he loved.
When he searched on helpx, (Help Exchange) he found over 30 possible volunteer situations in the region. Through a process of elimination, he settled on New Life Foundation. “The attitude of self-sufficiency and the mindfulness really resonated with me,” he says. He was also drawn to the idea of living in community, as an alternative to the anonymous city life he’d lived for decades.
At New Life, Rich has enjoyed the physical labor of gardening. “It has given me an opportunity to reconnect with the earth,” he says. “It becomes very mindful, a peaceful zone.” Working with the earth recalls his youth when he gardened with his grandfather on rural Long Island.
When he first suggested it, the New Life staff encouraged Rich to offer his professional acupuncture to residents and volunteers at no charge. “I’m really glad I got to introduce this traditional Chinese practice,” he says. “I’ve seen a little light go off in some of the people’s minds. They can tell it’s helping, even if they’re not sure how.” Rich says acupuncture can help an addict control cravings.
Rich says the accommodations at New Life are nice and the food is excellent. (And did we mention the swimming pool?)
Rich has decided to find an apartment in Chiang Mai, another Northern Thai city, and plans to use the Foundation as a transitioning point to his new life–some time here and some time there until he’s settled.
What does Rich say to people thinking about volunteering at New Life – especially retirees?
“Don’t let age be a barrier. Everyone is welcome here. Age doesn’t matter. You probably have skills that are much needed in the community and people will be grateful you came.”
–Many thanks to one of our volunteers for this guest post