Bonnie’s Story: Finding Purpose in Retirement

Seven hours. 

Research shows that new retirees have an additional seven hours of leisure time to fill.* Seven hours! While some seniors are excited and thrilled by the extra hours, we’ve found that many feel lost about how to fill them. 

Finding a sense of purpose in retirement can help make the most of that extra time. But it’s easier said than done. Yes, you can pull out the bucket list. But for many, it’s less about crossing items off, but figuring out what goes on the list in the first place. Maybe it’s reading more, taking a few strokes off your golf game, or spending more time with family. Or maybe it’s something bigger, like starting a second career or fulfilling a lifelong goal. 

Above all, finding purpose is key to making the most of retirement and it can even be beneficial to your health. Studies show that people with purpose actually live longer. Why not fill those seven extra hours with things that help you thrive, in mind, body and spirit?

Thriving at Immanuel is all about purpose. Our communities provide comprehensive programming that helps residents discover the ways they can find purpose and live their best years yet. Immanuel communities are filled with countless stories of residents who are finding purpose in this next chapter. Through volunteerism, health and wellness, social groups, advocacy and more, these residents show us what an impact purpose can make. 

Bonnie’s Story

In 2015, Hy-Vee grocery store was launching a new delivery program and Pacific Springs employees knew it could have a big impact for residents. Staff members helped residents navigate the online ordering system which quickly became a popular service. So popular that more hands were needed. 

Bonnie Buckland, a new resident at Pacific Springs and no stranger to lending a hand, eagerly volunteered to help her neighbors place orders. “I really enjoyed what we were doing,” said Bonnie. “I grew up on a small farm in northeast Nebraska. Out of sheer necessity, neighbor-helping-neighbor was a way of life.” 

As interest in online grocery ordering grew, Bonnie became more involved and is now the owner and coordinator of the program. 
Grocery ordering at Pacific Springs has grown immensely since 2015. And during the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic, the program was a life saver, providing a safe option for senior residents to receive their groceries. Usage in 2020 doubled from the year prior with nearly 1,000 orders placed. 

Bonnie’s work isn’t yet done. She’s decided to make use of all the paper grocery bags from Hy-Vee and is collecting them to deliver to Together, Inc., a local nonprofit that hosts a food pantry for those in need. 

Most people start and end their retirement planning with a financial advisor. And while finances are certainly a part of the picture, they’re just that, only a part. Retirement is made up of many parts, much more than dollars and cents. Whole-picture retirement planning means thinking about how you’ll find purpose in an extra seven hours a day. 

Tips for finding purpose in retirement: 

  • Think about the things that bring you the most joy whether it’s current passions or forgotten hobbies or dreams. 
  • Connect. Sometimes purpose is less about what you’re doing and more about the connections you’re making. Purpose might simply be an enriching conversation with a neighbor, family member or friend. 
  • Volunteer or lend a hand. For Bonnie, volunteering opened a door to new purpose and engagement. 

Learn more about Immanuel’s inspiring residents through our YouTube channel. Click here to watch

And for more ideas on living your best retirement, download our retirement living guide, free at 

*Dychtwald, Ken. Morison, Robert. What Retirees Want. Hoboken, New Jersey, John Wiley & Sons, 2020.