Don Frost

2001 Volunteer of the Year for the American Lung Association® of New Hampshire. 

VOLUNTEERISM – THE SILVER LINING

By Don Frost, Proud Volunteer

There is an old saying that there is a silver lining in every cloud. For me that cloud arrived 4 years ago when I landed in the hospital and was diagnosed with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and was placed on oxygen for my very survival. Upon being released from the hospital my whole entire world seemed to be crumbling. I had always been an active hard working individual. Now I was being told I could no longer perform the function of my work, my very career. I would have to attend a pulmonary rehabilitation program, and what seemed at the time the worst possible-using oxygen. I didn't know where to turn, what to do, or how I was going to cope.

Once I began the rehabilitation program I began to challenge myself to do well. In fact I still to this day continue a maintenance program.

Once through the program I embarked on doing something new and constructive for myself. Something that would challenge me while using my abilities, allowing me once again to become a productive member of society. That lead me to begin doing volunteer work. In turn this lead me to the American Lung Association of New Hampshire. The following is a brief synopsis of my involvement.

The American Lung Association of NH has been sponsoring a Clean Air Challenge Fall Foliage Walk in the Beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire. Three years ago my wife participated in the walk while I provided support. Then last year they added a component for COPD walkers also. I immediately became involved by working with my own pulmonary group to help organize a team to participate and doing fund raising. This year I had the honor of being on the event planning team, becoming involved with nearly every aspect of the event planning. I immersed myself at every opportunity to participate and provide whatever skills and abilities I could bring to the team. One important function was to recruit new pulmonary teams to participate. This while also helping to spearhead once again our own pulmonary walk team, nearly doubling its participation this year and more than tripling the funds we raised. I am proud to say that I have once again been asked to participate on this year's planning team and look forward to that challenge with great enthusiasm.

In addition to the walk the American Lung Association of NH sponsors a summer luncheon cruise in the Lakes Region of NH. I again had the opportunity to participate in that program. I would hope to become even more involved with this program.

The American Lung Association also has their Say No To Tobacco programs, which I am in the process of beginning to participate in also. Something I both look forward to in terms of the challenges it presents and the hopes of making a difference in young peoples lives.

Many times I have been asked why I do volunteer work and especially why with the American Lung Association of NH. The answer is rather obvious in that being on oxygen, what better people to be involved with an those whose work helps promote healthier lungs, healthier lives. But more deeply, for me personally it is the opportunity to be involved daily in programs and with people who both teach me, who are in the current mainstream of new advances, and most of all being able to bring what I have learned and experienced to others who like myself are afflicted with pulmonary disorders. This has helped me share with others the opportunities to learn that even on oxygen or with lung disorders we can still be productive, we do not have to live sedentary lives and we can get up and enjoy fulfilling lives. As a volunteer I have obtained that personal self-fulfillment I so desired and regained my own personal self-esteem in knowing that I am doing something worthwhile and important. Finally for me, it is also just plain fun to do.

Besides being asked why I volunteer, I have had the opportunities to talk with people who are contemplating becoming volunteers. I think the most important things they should consider in becoming an American Lung Association of NH volunteer is that they need to be willing to commit to the programs they would like to volunteer in, whether it is special event or a long time commitment to many programs. Volunteers are needed and appreciated. There are many opportunities available to become an important part of a program or in someone's life. As a volunteer one must always be aware to the sensitivities of the people they come in contact with while encouraging them to do their best, to help them challenge themselves within their limits. A volunteer must have a deep desire to promote the American Lung Association of NH mission. But again, commitment and fulfillment of that commitment is of most importance. The rewards are limitless in the people they help, the programs they promote and the other volunteers and staff they meet. Volunteers make a large impact both in other's lives as well as how their own life is impacted. Volunteers are important and they can show others they are important too.

In finishing I would be remiss if I did not mention two very important people with the American Lung Association of New Hampshire with whom I have had the very fortunate opportunity to have met, worked with and become friends with. Kristi Isabelle-Scarpone and Dee Martin. Two very dedicated and special employees of the New Hampshire office. It is through these two very special ladies that I became involved with volunteering with the American Lung Association of NH. A personal association for which I am grateful and hope to continue for many years to come.

What a combination, volunteering, American Lung Association of NH, Kristi and Dee, truly my silver lining.