Volunteering for Life
Author: Melissa Lahti ~ January 3, 2015
Week 4 ~ Challenge
When my Grandmother was alive she lived in an assisted living complex. It really was a neat place as far as assisted living goes. She had her own private one bedroom apartment and the place provided her with at least two meals a day that she could choose to eat in her house or down in the dining room with many other residents. The assisted living provided weekly cleaning services and even nurse assisted care if she needed it. They also took trips to the store, held game nights and various activities. This is an awesome place for elderly people to stay and after she passed away I always said I would go back some time and volunteer somehow. Therefore this week, I am going to volunteer as much time as I can at the assisted living where my Grandma used to live. I will have to call them and find out how exactly they can use me but even if it’s just to go and visit with the residents, this will be a very rewarding experience.
My original plan was to volunteer at the assisted living where my Grandmother used to live. I thought this would be a great way to give back to the community she loved, that had helped her so much. When I called them they told me they didn’t accept volunteers because of liability issues. I was disappointed and at a loss, I really wanted to do something to honor my Grandma. Being in the healthcare field for the last 10 years, I have always enjoyed working with people and thought it would be great to be able to connect with them without having to worry about getting my work done.
I began to search for a place when I came across this great website called volunteermatch.org. I put in my city, checked off a few areas of interest and it pulled up tons of opportunities. One of the top choices was at a small Alzheimer’s facility that was actually within a mile of my work. It was fate! I emailed the contact person on the post and she responded almost immediately. I set up a meeting with her and filled out some paperwork. I did have to pay $20 for a background check, they offered to pay it if I would commit to volunteering at least 4 times a month for the next six months. I couldn’t make that kind of a commitment with my crazy schedule so I paid the fee.
I really loved this opportunity to spend quality time with patients without having to do my job. On one of my visits I was painting fingernails for a few of the ladies. My biggest fan was a woman who was reliving her days at the nail salon and kept thanking me for bringing the salon to her. Even with a deteriorating memory, she was full of life and tons of stories. She talked my ear off the whole time. The crazy thing is, she will never even remember that I was there but I will surely NEVER forget her. The impact this has had on my life will last forever.
I really never expected to be the one to gain so much from this experience. I thought the whole thing would lead to me giving to the community when really in the end they had so much to give to me. I will definitely continue to do this as often as I can. It was an awesome experience and I am more than glad I took the step to achieve it.
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