85-year-old volunteer finds purpose in community service

Ruth Johnson spends much of her week volunteering at Maine Audubon, Scarborough Surgery Center and Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse.

PORTLAND, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- Retirement brings a lot of free time, but that's not always easy to adjust to. Ruth Johnson decided to fill her schedule by volunteering. 

Johnson is known for greeting visitors at the front desk of Gilsland Farm in Falmouth for Maine Audubon once a week. A familiar face that is known for turning a bad day around. It's been ten years since she retired from her retail job of 26 years. Before that, she was a physical education teacher for 25 years. 

"She just gives and gives and gives of herself and has created such a presence here that makes people want to continue to come back and visit her and the property of course which is beautiful, but a lot of people come back just to visit Ruth," said Annica McGuirk of Maine Audubon. 

Johnson doesn't just spend her time helping visitors at Gilsland Farm, but also volunteers twice a week at the Scarborough Surgery Center. It's where you'll find her cleaning and prepping pre-op rooms. 

"There's no way you can work for 60 years and all of a sudden do nothing," said Johnson.

The same reason why she also finds time to volunteer at Spring Point Ledge Lighthouse during the summer weekends it's open to the public. The 85-year-old shares the history of the guiding light at the end of the South Portland breakwater. 

"That I'm as old as I am and can still be very useful!," said Johnson about her favorite part of volunteering. 

In addition to her community service, Johnson also participates in a sport known as Orienteering. She uses a map and compass to get herself from point to point in the wilderness. So far, she has taken part in orienteering competitions all over the U.S. as well as Canada, Sweden and Scotland. 

© 2017 WCSH-TV


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