Tag Archives: volunteering

Clowning Around

One way to stay “forever young” is to help others.

A growing body of research demonstrates that volunteering leads to better physical and mental health and that volunteers even live longer.

Want more proof of the benefits of volunteering?

Volunteer Clowns Ray And Linda Faczan
70 Seven And Kor-Kee
Meet Ray Faczan, a 67-year-old retired pharmaceutical salesman and his 66-year old wife, Linda Faczan, a retired medical secretary.

Linda and Ray serve their community in Central Pennsylvania by, well, clowning around.

I mean that literally. They are volunteer clowns. You know, facial makeup, red noses, wigs, costumes, extra-large shoes and gags galore. That kind of clown.

When they are performing as clowns, Linda and Ray actually take on the persona of their clown character. So let’s meet those characters.

Linda’s clown name is “Kor-Kee,” which is derived from her ability to make beautiful wreaths out of corks. Ray is “70 Seven” because he is 77 inches tall.

Not only does every clown have a nom de clown, but they also have a costume and a makeup style derived from the type of clown they are.

Types of Clowns

There are 3 main types of clowns: Whiteface, Auguste and Hobo.

Volunteer Clowns Ray And Linda Faczan
70 Seven And Kor-Kee
Whiteface clowns wear full white makeup on their face with precise and delicate red and white features. (The European Whiteface clown even goes as far as painting his ears red.) A Whiteface clown usually dresses extravagantly and has a costume mostly made up of white with some color trim.

Auguste clowns wear fleshtone makeup with white around the mouth and eyes, often with a black line surrounding the white. This type of clown usually has a large ball-shaped comedy nose. August clowns have the widest range of costumes of all clowns. They often exaggerate their clothing with such things as over-sized coats, undersized hats or very short pants and colorful suspenders.

Hobo clowns are either happy hobos or sad tramps. They have a black coal or a soot-like appearance with white around the eyes and mouth. The up or down shape of their eyebrows reveals whether they are a sad tramp or a happy hobo. As you would expect, hobo and tramp clowns wear costumes that are old and worn.

Can you tell from their pictures which type of clown Kor-Kee and 70 Seven are?

The answer is at the end of the article.

How Kor-Kee And 70 Seven Got Started Clowning

Kor-Kee and 70 Seven started clowning about 6 years ago.

Having been invited for a number of years to join the local clown club, but not having the time to accept, 70 Seven finally gave in and went to the club’s clown school.

Do You Know What Coulrophobia Is?

It is fear of clowns. Characteristic symptoms are such things as breathlessness and heart palpatations. Treatment normally involves progressive desensitization, starting with things like looking at photos of clowns and working up to being in their presence.

He is a fun and funny guy naturally and thought it would be great to have another way to make people laugh.

And, because they do virtually everything together, Kor-Kee joined him.

After they were trained, Kor-Kee and 70 Seven became active in the Classic Clown Club which has 25 or 30 members ranging in age from 30-something to the mid-80s. That’s right, mid-80s. Do you need any more proof that clowning and volunteer work keep you young and active?

The local clown club is affiliated with a larger international organization called Clowns of America International.

The local chapters – called “alleys” – have regular meetings, plan appearances – which they call “gigs” – and have workshops. Members can also attend conventions and alleys can compete for national awards.

What Is It Like To Be A Volunteer Clown

Kor-Kee, 70 Seven and their cohorts entertain at festivals, banquets, business picnics, hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, school carnivals and community gatherings of all types.

At their gigs, Kor-Kee likes to face paint while 70 Seven makes balloons and performs magic tricks. They both do” walk arounds” where they stroll through the crowd entertaining, largely with sight gags. Sometimes, they present scripted clown skits.

When I asked Kor-Kee and 70 Seven what is the best thing about clowning, they had the same answer. It’s the satisfaction of bringing a smile to someone or raising a person’s spirits, especially at nursing homes and in hospitals. That satisfied feeling makes all the effort worthwhile and keeps this couple clowning.

Actually, when they visit hospitals, 70 Seven and Kor-Kee wear different costumes. Instead of their usual clown garb, they wear lab coats and carry stethoscopes. Even their names are different. At the hospital, Kor-Kee’s name tag says “Dr. Lauren Gitis” and 70 Seven’s reads “Dr. Gerri Attrix.”

Volunteer Clowns Ray And Linda Faczan
70 Seven And Kor-Kee
There is a knack to visiting patients in hospitals. There are protocols that must be observed. Not even clowns can barge into a patient’s room without knocking and requesting permission to enter. And the clowns have to know about hospital procedures, too. For example, if a patient’s chart shows they are “NPO,” the clowns have to know that means “nothing by mouth” so that, if the patient asks for a glass of water, the clown will not unknowingly give it to them.

When visiting hospitals, Drs. Lauren Gitis and Gerri Attrix take fish stickers which they attach to a patient’s IV bag while announcing, “There, now you’ve got an aquarium.”

When not performing, these clowns are constantly working to improve their character, their costume and their craft. They continually develop new costumes, discover new props, learn new tricks and create new gags they can use to entertain.

Kor-Kee And 70 Seven Are Christian Clowns

The red dot that Kor-Kee and 70 Seven wear on their clown faces identify them as Christian clowns. They think of their clown service as their ministry in life. All of their gigs are family oriented but they are only religious if the group they are entertaining requests a religious message or theme.

Oh, what type of clowns are Kor-Kee and 70 Seven? If you guessed Auguste clowns, you are right.

Volunteering In America

If I have a life philosophy that can be reduced to bumper sticker length, it is this: We’re all in this together.

Leave footprints by volunteeringOur differences are insignificant when compared to the things we have in common. Ultimately, almost all of us want the same things out of life: to succeed, have some fun, do some good and, if we’re lucky, leave footprints so someone will remember we were here.

One way many of us recognize our commonalities and our inter-dependence is through volunteering. I’ve written about this “secret” to a good life before, given you inspirational quotes about volunteering and even told you about research which shows that volunteers live longer!

Fascinating new statistics are out about volunteering in America. They come from the Corporation for National and Community Service which has released “Volunteering in America,” a detailed, multi-year report on volunteering trends and demographics.

Some of the most interesting findings are presented in this infographic.

Volunteering In America 2010

Who Else Wants To Trade A Couple Of Hours For A Lifelong Warm Glow?

Meals on Wheels
Meals on Wheels

I’ve delivered Meals on Wheels for more than 15 years.  I deliver around lunchtime on Friday and it takes about 2 ½ hours from the time I leave my office until I return.

As you probably know, Meals on Wheels is a volunteer program that delivers warm, nutritious meals to the (mostly elderly) homebound.

I had an experience recently which reminded me why I volunteer with Meals on Wheels. Let me tell you about it . . .

I rang the doorbell at Ms. B’s townhouse.  Because I had been delivering to her for several months, I knew that she is virtually blind and that, therefore, it takes her a while to get to the door.

So I waited patiently.  (Since I’m not known for my patience, developing it is a bonus benefit of this volunteer work.)

When Ms. B didn’t come to the door, I rang the door bell again – and knocked loudly too.

Still no answer.

I have Ms. B’s phone number on an index card that I carry in my car when I’m delivering, so I called her.  No answer.

I had a dozen other people waiting for hot meals, so I had to move on.  And I couldn’t leave Ms. B’s meal unattended outside her house.  It looked like Ms. B wasn’t going to get her meal.

But I had a hunch she was home, so I decided to make one more try. My index card had the phone number of one of her neighbors.  Sitting in my car, I started to dial the neighbor’s number.

As I was dialing, Ms. B finally appeared at the door. I yelled to her and ran back to her house.  She invited me in.

In the months that I had been delivering to Ms. B, she had been polite when I was at her house, but virtually expressionless.  She wasn’t talkative and didn’t reveal much about herself.

This time was different.

She had a big, bright smile that’s now embedded in my memory.  She told me that she had not come to the door sooner because she was a little disoriented and had not been able to find her way to the front door.

When she finally did locate the front door, she was so proud of herself.

She thanked me profusely for not leaving and told me how glad she was that she didn’t have to go without lunch.

Her smile was all the thanks I needed.

The Secret Of Volunteerism


It turns out that volunteerism is one of the secrets to living a Forever Young life.

I didn’t know that when I started volunteering.

Actually, I didn’t really think much about my decision to become a volunteer. I started just because it seemed like the right thing to do. It seemed like a necessary part of a balanced life.

My volunteer work has mostly involved coaching youth sports, feeding needy and homeless persons at soup kitchens, delivering meals to the homebound and community mediation.

I know that people have benefited from my work, and that makes me feel needed, appreciated and proud.

It was only after I had been a volunteer for a while that I realized how much I gained.

What it gives me, mainly, is a feeling of satisfaction because I’m doing my part.

And, get this. On top of that warm glow I get from volunteering, it turns out that there are proven physical and mental health benefits.

Talk about unexpected bonuses!

Yet fewer than 1 person in 10 knows this secret.

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, fewer than 10% of the American population volunteers on an average day.

The most active volunteers are those over 65, at about 9%. About 4% of those 25 to 34 volunteer and volunteerism increases with each ascending age group.

To see the Bureau of Labor Statistics chart that breaks down volunteerism by gender and age, click here.

Quotes About Volunteerism

Successful people of all ages help others. They do their part to make the world a better place. One way to practice kindness and generosity is through volunteerism.

These are my 10 favorite quotes about volunteerism or volunteering. I hope you like them as much as I do.

  • I shall pass through this world but once. Any good therefore that I can do or any kindness that I can show to any human being, let me do it now. Let me not defer or neglect it, for I shall not pass this way again.
    Mahatma Gandhi
  • “Give help rather than advice.”
    Luc de Vauvenargues
  • Volunteers are the only human beings on the face of the earth who reflect this nation’s compassion, unselfish caring, patience, and just plain love for one another.
    Erma Bombeck
  • I was taught that the world had a lot of problems; that I could struggle and change them; that intellectual and material gifts brought the privilege and responsibility of sharing with others less fortunate; and that service is the rent each of us pays for living, the very purpose of life and not something you do in your spare time or after you have reached your personal goals.
    Marian Wright Edelman
  • It is one of the most beautiful compensations of this life that no man can sincerely try to help another without helping himself.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Volunteering can be an exciting, growing, enjoyable experience. It is truly gratifying to serve a cause, practice one’s ideals, work with people, solve problems, see benefits, and know one had a hand in them.
    Harriet Naylor
  • “When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die.
    Eleanor Roosevelt
  • “There is one word which may serve as a rule of practice for all one’s life – reciprocity.”
  • “Never doubt that a small group of commited people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
    Margaret Mead
  • No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted.