Happiness comes from helping others through their difficult times
By Sparta Live | December 30, 2013 12:00 am
Jeff and Peggy Harmann spent much of their time on the road before they retired. They walked along the Great Wall of China, saw the ruins of Rome, visited Stratford-upon-Avon, and went to Italy, but realized they had never been to Rock Island.
Jeff and Peggy received a wake-up call when they were diagnosed with illnesses that they realized could possibly keep them from accomplishing what they had hoped to do in life. Thus, they resolved to do what good they could while they could.
Deciding to enter a new season of life together, Jeff and Peggy retired on the same day. Since retiring, they have traveled domestically, seeking all their hometown has to offer. Since retirement, Jeff and Peggy have sought ways to give back to the community.
“We wanted to use our lives to make a difference in the world,” Peggy said.
The Harmanns’ focus currently lies in helping the elderly and the hungry. Jeff and Peggy organize groups to deliver food to elderly members of the community who are having trouble financially or having issues with mobility. Although they are thankful for the food, the recipients are often just thankful for someone to talk to. They have also partnered with Jessica McCulley’s Girl Scout troops. The troop visited to bring Thanksgiving dinner plates and sing carols to the shut-ins during the holidays.
“You see that contrast between what you thought was important and what is truly important,” Peggy said. “ You think it’s about that next dollar, but then you look at reality.”
Jeff and Peggy are also involved in an effort aimed toward helping Native American reservations with high rates of suicide. At one reservation they visited, they recalled approximately five youth suicides in the course of a single week.
Peggy recalled, “We’ve met kids with asthma who live in houses where railroad ties are burned to heat the home through very cold winters. The ties make noxious smoke, and there are kids with asthma trying to breathe.”
The Harmanns find fulfillment in the positive effects the program has had in the lives of others. One young man they have worked with has graduated college, and several others are enrolled in college.
“Sometimes I feel like it’s like that old story about the starfish,” Peggy said. “A couple of kids are walking along the beach and throwing the starfish back into the ocean. The old man says, ‘Why are you doing that? You can never put them all back in the sea,’ and one of the children says, ‘Yes, but for the one that made it back to the ocean, it makes a difference.’”
Jeff and Peggy are also enjoying life on the homefront with their grandchildren. As they watch the children during the week, they nurture the young minds by making lesson plans to exercise throughout the week. Although many use their retirement years to travel the world, Jeff and Peggy are happy to come home and focus on the family and the community.