After working over 40 years as a full-time registered nurse in the cardiology departments and intensive care units of hospitals, Peggy Wolfe retired and moved into a cozy house on a quiet side street in Worthington.
It's the house where she grew up -- the house where she likely was watching the inauguration of President Kennedy on television when he inspired a generation to give back to their communities and country.
After graduating, going on to college, becoming a nurse and working hard for all these years, she has earned her stripes, but she doesn't choose to live the "life of Riley." Instead, she volunteers as much of her time and talent as possible to help others.
As a volunteer with the American Red Cross, she was recently deployed to serve as a nurse in an emergency shelter in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. She recalled the quote from JFK when talking about why she volunteers to go in to disaster zones where people are in need, lives are disrupted, services are unavailable and tensions are high.
Knowing words can inspire and lift spirits, she said she made handwritten signs with memorable quotes and tacked them up in the shelter hoping to lift the spirits of evacuees.
"I put up little signs like 'No human condition is ever permanent' and 'This too shall pass,' " said Wolfe.
On Monday of this week, she helped clean and close the shelter after power was restored in the area where she was stationed and evacuees could return to their homes. Then she returned to ARC headquarters in New Jersey and by 6:30 p.m. she was boarding a plane to Indianapolis. During the night, she arrived back home again in Indiana.
After her deployment during the Katrina disaster, she said she couldn't sleep for two days but this time, she had no trouble settling back in for a good night's sleep.
The very next day, on Tuesday, she was at a planning meeting for Marsh Madness, a community event centered around the local Goose Pond Fish & Wildlife area.
Besides volunteering to help organize Marsh Madness, she volunteers at the Sonshine Shop in Worthington, a second-hand store and community food pantry, and with Tri Kappa of Worthington, a women's organization with a focus on charity.
As chairperson of Tri Kappa's annual holiday bake sale scheduled for this Saturday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m. in the Worthington Municipal Building, she'll be busy all week putting up signs then helping to sell homemade goodies, pecans and cheese balls during the event.
She also volunteers with the Sierra Club and has gone on service trips for 10 years, to Pelican Island, Catalina Island, Costa Rica, and Martha's Vineyard.
In Costa Rica, she helped paint a school. On Martha's Vineyard, she helped plant shrubs, flowers and trees.
"On Martha's Vineyard, we planted hazelnut, wintermint and verbena," said Wolfe. "That was fun. Retirement's great."
Earlier this fall, before her deployment to New Jersey, she was working a seasonal job -- as a corn sorter at Pioneer. She wasn't working to earn money for a vacation -- she said it was an opportunity to pick up extra money to pay for a trip as a volunteer.
In the event of another disaster far away or even local, she could be activated by the Red Cross again, but she always has a choice whether to accept or not.
Serving in a disaster zone is not an easy job. Would she go again?
"It's likely," said Wolfe. "Yes."
Helping others is what her life's been all about.
"I believe if we just treat each other with kindness, if you do that, you get it back," said Wolfe.
"That's what we're here on earth to do."