DEARBORN — When Betty Nickerson moved to Beaumont Commons, Dearborn in 2017, she cautioned her friends to “leave a message when you call, because I’ll be out and about.”
“My husband died in February 2017, and I knew I couldn’t stay alone,” said Nickerson, a Dearborn resident since 1972. So, she moved to the senior living community and continued a lifelong practice — giving of herself in new surroundings.
“I love volunteering and helping others.”
According to a 2010 report published by the Corporation for National and Community Service, older Americans who volunteer frequently live longer and report fewer disabilities. Research shows older volunteers report lower mortality rates, lower rates of depression, fewer physical limitations, and higher levels of well-being.
When you learn Nickerson’s fascinating background, it’s easy to understand what led her to an active lifestyle and volunteer work.
Born in New York City, Nickerson was raised in Massachusetts, graduated from Bridgewater State Teachers College and married her high school sweetheart, Albert Nickerson. Because of his work for the State Department, the couple lived in Afghanistan, Cyprus and the Philippines.
Summing up her experiences abroad, Nickerson said, “Afghanistan was the scariest, and Cyprus was the most beautiful. In the Philippines, we lived at Clark Air Force Base, so it was like living in the States, and I was able to teach.”
After returning to the United States, her husband left the State Department to work for the FBI, which brought the couple and their young daughter to Michigan.
“I was tired of traveling, and we bought a home in Dearborn, only a few houses from Oakwood Hospital,” Nickerson said. “We really liked it here.”
In 1978, Nickerson was hired by Dearborn Federal Credit Union, now DFCU Financial. She shared that most of her time was spent at the Oakwood-Beech branch in the training department, which gave her the opportunity to use her teaching and proofreading skills.
After retiring from the credit union in 1994, Nickerson started volunteering at the Dearborn Senior Center. She also spent 10 years as a volunteer at the University of Michigan-Dearborn library.
“I’m more of a ‘background person,’ so I was happy to do whatever they needed,” she said, “including prepping books for students.”
Since moving to Beaumont Commons, it’s no surprise to learn that Nickerson helped reorganize the campus library and assists others in finding books.
“I love this place and love the campus,” said Nickerson, who also volunteers and uses her skills to proofread the community newsletter, set up equipment for Bingo or simply help friends who need assistance.
When asked if she misses traveling and Massachusetts where she grew up, Nickerson responds that Dearborn is home. It’s where her daughter and son-in-law, Lisa and Glenn Oswald, live and where her grandson, Andrew, was raised. Coincidentally, Nickerson’s daughter Lisa now works at DFCU Financial.
Walking around campus at a steady pace, Nickerson is surely an example of what many studies already confirm — volunteering offers older adults many benefits.