“Live to give” could be Rosel Barowsky’s motto.
Originally from New York, the longtime volunteer has called Los Altos home since 1966 and currently resides at The Terraces at Los Altos. Barowsky has two daughters, three grandchildren and one great-grandson.
Inspired by her mother’s volunteerism, Barowsky said she can’t recall a time when she didn’t offer her time and efforts. When her girls were young, she was a Brownie and Girl Scout leader, and well as volunteering with other organizations.
Barowsky worked as a learning center specialist librarian in the Sunnyvale School District for 21 years. When she retired in 1994, she devoted herself to volunteering once again – in a big way.
Pre-pandemic, she had logged thousands of hours at the Discovery Shop since 1995; offered her services at the Grant Park branch of the Los Altos Senior Center – serving lunch, helping with English as a second language classes and leading discussions for older adults considering a transition to community living; and helped with monthly lunch and entertainment programs at the Jewish Community Center.
The family way
Volunteering runs in the family, Barowsky said. Her late husband, Irv, who died in 2015, was an avid volunteer in many capacities in addition to his career as an engineer. For years, he delighted audiences with free magic shows at local restaurants, senior centers and events under the stage name “Haja Doodat” (“How’d Ya Do That?”).
Her daughters have long donated their time and efforts to a variety of causes such as breast cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer’s and support for battered women.
“One daughter has made art projects for raffles,” Barowsky said. “We all like doing crafts, so it satisfies a need we have for keeping our hands busy, something worthwhile.”
While the pandemic has curtailed Barowsky’s volunteering out (for now – she plans to get back to it), she has found another way to give back from the safety of her home. She is currently knitting scarves for One Warm Scarf, which donates scarves, hats, slippers, blankets and knitted animals to local shelters.
“It’s something, now that it’s getting cold, everybody needs,” she said.
Barowsky’s knitting began many years ago with a program called “Caps for Kids.”
Eventually, her mother took over on the caps and Barowsky started in on scarves. And she has kept at it.
Before hearing about One Warm Scarf, she was knitting scarves for her daughter’s temple, which distributed them to the homeless, as well as to the Mountain View Senior Center when her husband volunteered there.
For those who have worked, Barowsky said, volunteering satisfies a need to be doing something that’s gratifying and fulfilling.
“I can’t imagine everybody not wanting to do something to help their community in one way or another,” she said. “Everybody has different interests and skills. Find that one thing that makes you feel good, and you’re doing something good.”
As a bonus, she added, “You meet a lot of great people you wouldn’t meet ordinarily. It’s a continuation of life. Keeping busy keeps you not young chronologically, but keeps you interested in other things.”
For more information on The Terraces at Los Altos, visit humangood.org/the-terraces-at-los-altos.