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Nurses never really retire

Article and photo by Lisa Nicklanovich

Photo of Carolyn Hayes who continues to volunteer after being a nurse.

The Village at Castle Pines resident Carolyn Hayes wearing a Volunteers of America pin and a vest with the logo from the Colorado Horse Park in Parker – two organizations Hayes has volunteered with for many years. Hayes had a long career as a nurse, among many other roles, and has continually volunteered.

Carolyn Hayes, resident of The Village at Castle Pines for more than 20 years, began volunteering as a candy striper in Greenwich, Connecticut in the 1960s. Soon after, Hayes became a nurse, and continued on to clinic management, occupational health and fitness, sales, marketing, teaching, writing and consulting. Throughout her career, Hayes always volunteered and her passion for helping others continues into her retirement.

Affectionately referred to as “the bag lady” by neighbors, Hayes has been asking for donations of paper and plastic grocery bags for the Volunteers of America (VOA) Meals on Wheels program for over a year. Hayes also uses the community forum Nextdoor to request donations of toiletries, clothes and other items, meeting community residents in grocery store parking lots, then driving the donations downtown.

As a longtime volunteer for the Red Cross, Hayes was a member of the disaster action team. While working as an occupational health nurse during the day, Hayes carried a pager and would respond to emergencies in the night, such as a house fire. Hayes also volunteered as a nurse during major disasters such as the Cheyenne tornado, and multiple Colorado fires. “I was never one to just hand out Band-Aids,” Hayes remarked.

Resourceful, determined and detail-oriented, Hayes directed an occupational health and fitness program for 400 employees at Rocky Mountain Energy during her career, advocating for all employees to benefit from the program, not just the executives. While authoring articles and presenting at conferences, Hayes meshed her volunteering with her work.

More recently, Hayes has been the volunteer coordinator for the Colorado Horse Park in Parker for nine years. When she first heard volunteers were needed, she said, “Well, I can hand out water.” Hayes later coordinated events with thousands of guests and 100 volunteers. Hayes is looking forward to volunteering at a free event in October at the horse park.

Hayes is currently volunteering with the First Nations Foundation and the Denver American Indian Festival, which will take place September 25 and 26 at the Adams County Fairgrounds. A nurse friend asked her to help out and so she did. “Whoever gets in my Daytimer (calendar) first wins,” Hayes stated matter-of-factly.

Hayes shared that she would like to see more people using their passion and skills for the greater good. “We all have our talents,” Hayes stated and she listed a number of tasks like making phone calls, designing flyers and even donating grocery bags, that can make a difference. Her late husband Richard’s favorite expression was “carpe diem” a Latin phrase meaning “seize the day” and Hayes certainly embodies that expression.

“Nurses never really retire,” Hayes stated.

For more information on Volunteers of America, visit For more information on the Colorado Horse Park, visit For more information on the Denver American Indian Festival, visit



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