Spend time with any senior citizen and you quickly learn the difference between people who stay active -- physically and mentally -- and those who retired years ago and sat right down in front of the television.
They age differently. A mind unused or a body untended atrophies. Fortunately, Payson is full of examples of elderly people who have refused to fade into the background just because they are no longer a part of the work force.
As of last week, the Payson Roundup began running a weekly page, each Tuesday, dedicated to Seniors. This week, on 6A (of the print edition), the Seniors page focuses on our local corps of senior volunteers.
Many area nonprofits rely for their very existence on the time and efforts of those same volunteers.
Perhaps Payson can serve as a lesson to the rest of the state. According to a study conducted by the Corporation for National and Community Service, Arizona ranks 45th in the nation in volunteerism with only 24.9 percent of our population willing to give of his or her time. (Visit www.nationalservice. org for the full report.)
We are grateful that Payson does not fit into that mold, nor has it ever.
A quick glance through the book "Rim Country History" compiled by the Northern Gila County Historical Society, shows a community built by volunteers. For example, in the early 1900s, the Payson Junior Woman's Club was responsible for opening the first hospital in town. They raised $11,000 and borrowed $20,000 to open the Payson Clinic.
As Rim Country residents, it is our responsibility to continue the tradition.
Volunteerism can offer purpose. It can open social avenues and introduce you to people and ideas that you may never experience in your paid working life.
Visit inpayson.com for a comprehensive list of volunteer opportunities or scan the Almanac section of this newspaper for current calls for volunteers.
As we write, a diverse offering of volunteer positions are open and waiting -- from helping host events through Jazz in AZ, to the volunteers needed to walk dogs at the Payson Humane Society shelter, to a need for Big Brothers and Big Sisters to mentor local children.
If none of those fit your personality, perhaps you would like to help stock shelves and fill boxes at the local food bank or maybe you have an expertise to share as a member of a town or nonprofit committee. Whatever your skills or interest, there's a place for you.
And we would like to thank our local seniors for leading the charge, for being an example and an inspiration for the rest of us to stand up from our couches and go out into the community to serve.