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Finding Your Groove by Giving Back

When I initially crossed paths with Sue and Ross Thompson a few years ago on a trip to Fort Collins, Colorado, I was immediately impressed. They seemed to be connected to the FOCO community in a way that was extraordinary. After getting to know them better on a recent trip to one of my favorite communities, I got a deeper glimpse into the magic around this vibrant couple.

Sue and Ross moved to Fort Collins in 2021 after spending weekends there for many years “pre-retirement.” By the time they made the big move, they had already built strong relationships, fostered a deep feeling of belonging to the community, and had more friends than you could count. I’d call this a “retirement 101 lesson” of sorts for the rest of us. Within a few minutes of being in their presence, they make you feel welcome and it’s easy to see enjoy a zest for life.

Curious to learn more, I asked Sue to let me in on their secrets for cultivating such a vibrant life and how they prioritize their days now that they are both retired. In addition to being active each day walking, biking, and enjoying all kinds of outdoor activities, she laser focused on one way to groove they both intentionally prioritize: giving back.

“We’ve been blessed. We have everything we need. There is something about feeling like you make a difference for someone else,” she said. Both she and Ross believe in their core that it’s important to give back to the community in which they live.

Sue dedicates time to Matthew’s House Parent Café where she plans, shops for, and prepares an evening meal for 30 people every other week. She makes meals like shepherd’s pie, spaghetti and meatballs, or chicken pot pie with sides of fresh salads, veggies, and fresh fruit plus a sweet treat. It’s hard work but she gets great satisfaction out of blending her skills in the kitchen with helping others.

Sue also volunteers with the local Vegetable Connection, a non-profit supporting food resiliency and nutrition education by providing families in need with nutritious produce from their partner farms. “We know the food is fresh and healthy, as it just got picked,” she says.

As for Ross? “Ross connects people. Being a connector is one of his superpowers,” Sue noted. A passionate music enthusiast, he serves on the board of directors for the local community radio station KRFC. He volunteers with Colorado State University’s Fostering Success program, which enhances belonging, support, and growth among independent students. Ross is also on the Respite Care board. And they both are big CSU sports fans and supporters.

It's unmistakable that Sue and Ross make a significant positive impact in the Fort Collins community. Sue says she and Ross gain as much by volunteering as they give, as the positive feedback they receive is immensely rewarding. And they know they are making a difference for others, just one of the benefits of volunteering, or finding your groove in life. Volunteering in a meaningful way on a consistent basis can:

  • Provide a sense of purpose in your life

  • Offer a chance to learn new skills

  • Boost your mood and attitude

  • Connect you with others in your community

  • Reduce stress by releasing "feel good" hormones

  • Direct your focus on something bigger than yourself

  • Nurture a sense of overall well-being

For Sue and Ross, volunteering is a way of life. It works harmoniously for them, and it positively transforms the lives of those around them. As Sue says, it’s not hard to do. Her words of wisdom? “Think about your comfort. Do you want to work on your own or with others? Where does your passion lie for helping others?” Experiment with different opportunities, and you’ll find your passion, as well.

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