MANHASSET, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — There was a special birthday surprise Tuesday for a century-old Long Island man who still goes to work, helping other people.

At 100 years old, Arthur Seidman spends two days a week at Northwell Health, but he’s no patient — he works there, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported. He’s the hospital’s oldest volunteer, comforting families in the surgical waiting room and chatting the hours away with chemotherapy patients.

But on Tuesday, the hospital staff volunteered him for a surprise, gathering family and colleagues for a birthday celebration for their beloved centenarian.

“You have served since 1996. You have accumulated 14,400 hours. That’s astounding,” said Allesandro Bellucci, of Northwell Health.

“I think it’s special to be 100. I haven’t really gotten accustomed to it yet, but I’m working on it,” Seidman said.

And work he does, wracking up the most hours of any active volunteer. The tireless Seidman drives himself to the hospital, smiles with all his own teeth and only uses glasses for reading. The secret to his long, healthy life?

“Are you ready for this? Fast women and hard liquor,” he said.

Seidman joked but he also teared up recalling life changes, like combat in the Pacific as an Army officer in World War II. And the retired garment center salesman, married for 45 years, lost his wife three decades ago.

“I’ve lived a very eventful life I think, and I tried to be as good as I could to other people,” he said.

“He’s had some tragedy in his life, but he has always been able to get past it by just putting one foot in front of the other,” his daughter Jane Krakauer said.

From the wisdom of his years, Seidman said he knows helping people through trying times gives his life a purpose.

“This is overwhelming, I have to say,” he told the group gathered in his honor.

Seidman told Gusoff that he always looks ahead, and Wednesday he will begin his next century. Doing something for other people, he said, goes a long way to prolonging life.

Next week, Seidman will leave for a Caribbean cruise to celebrate his 100th birthday, and he’s making the trip with his girlfriend.