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When Valerie Evans first started volunteering at the Spanish Fork Senior Center in 2019, she couldn’t have anticipated all of the ways her own life would benefit from the service she was providing to others.
Known as a “service energizer bunny” by her friends, Valerie gladly accepted the opportunity to volunteer teaching Zumba to the seniors of her community. She has nine women that regularly attend the class. They have all become good friends through grapevining, cha-cha-ing, and shaking it to the beat together!
One woman, RuthAnn, has become a lifelong friend to Valerie and her family, even being called “grandma” by Valerie’s youngest daughter. The most meaningful part of teaching Zumba is the relationships that are formed. Valerie says, “I care about these ladies, we’re friends. No matter the age, people are people, and people matter.”
Each week, when the dancing is done and the energy is high, Valerie stays at the center to help serve the lunch provided to the seniors. A couple hundred attendees show up each week, happy to be catching up with old and new friends. Valerie invited one man, Dave, to come to the lunches after the passing of his wife. Now, Dave attends each lunch, sometimes coming hours early so that he can connect with the others there.
In hearing the happy chatter of the hustling and bustling lunch hall, and by seeing the smiles on the faces of the women as they dance, it is clear how much joy Valerie’s service has brought to others. However, the joy it has brought her is potentially even more profound.
In October 2020, doctors found an apple-size tumor in Valerie’s brain. After a successful removal, she was on an intense journey of recovery. “My neuropsychologist told me that dancing was good for the brain, so providing this service to the seniors also helped me recover in a way”. It also worked wonders to lift her spirits and bring a sweetness to life. “Every week when I come home from serving, I’m just so happy. It’s such an important lesson to learn—service is happiness. When you are struggling in life, just serve someone. Bring happiness to someone else and it can’t help but lift you up too.”
If you would like to get involved in service within your community, we invite you to contact a member of your city council to see where there are needs and opportunities. If you would like to nominate someone for a Goodness Grant, please do so here.