I’ve been volunteering at a local senior center here in the White Mountains of Arizona, for over 8 years now. I’ve seen it go through a name change, new owners (twice) and of course, residents that come and go. In today’s world, it seems that so many don’t even take the time to give respect to the elderly, as my generation was always taught. “Respect your elders” – who remembers hearing that often? In today’s modern age, it seems that the kids either don’t see them (since they are texting on their phones, etc.), or just don’t think that the time spent away from what they are usually doing is worth it. Oh, they are so wrong!!
Being able to take time out of my life, which for the centers’ schedule and my own, takes about an hour a week, makes such a difference. Getting to spend time with these sweet people and learn about their history and hear about what they are facing today, really helps me to value life. From what some of these great people have been through, in regards to wars, family and life itself, sometimes make the minute things that I’m dealing with seem like a hay ride!
Now I know we always hear the “I don’t have time”, “I have other things to do”, from so many people, and I understand that. Myself, being able to work from home and have a little extra time during the week, it really makes a difference. I remember getting to volunteer with the staff at the center, when they took some of the residents out on a picnic at a nearby lake. You would have thought that it was Christmas, the smiles on their faces and the laughter you could hear on the way there, that was irreplaceable.
Getting to the lake and being able to see them enjoy a simple picnic lunch on their paper plates, with napkins blowing in the wind (that I was picked to fetch), as well as hear the stories of how they used to go fishing, camping, etc. with their long lost spouse or family, those were times to cherish.
It is so heartbreaking sometimes to enter the senior center, and see these sweet people sitting in a corner looking so alone. I try to take a stroll around and just say hi to as many as I can that morning. I will never forget when I first started going there, I had a lady tell me that she hadn’t had someone visit her in years. What a shame! It doesn’t take that long to come and say hi!! What was even worse, was that I found out her family was local. Let’s change this way of life and make sure that our parents and grandparents know that they are important to us.
I could not imagine their feelings. After the years of raising us, and dealing with our issues as children, teens and young adults, how is it that the families can not take a minute to see how their relatives are doing? I don’t know, I guess I grew up in a different time. My maternal grandmother meant the world to me and I’m now getting closer to my paternal grandmother. Both of my grandfathers left this world when I was a lot younger, so I was never able to get very close to them. If I hadn’t have been able to spend time with my “Grama”, as I called her, I truthfully don’t know where I’d be today. She was always a light to me and helped me through so much. I’m thankful that by her love, I can now look at others that are elderly and see that their lives mean so much, and all they want is a bit of our time. Try and take a minute to do this, and see how the time you spend there ends up meaning so much more to you!
I found this poem online and it really makes you think about what you can be doing to make an impact on someone’s life:
Blessed are they…
Blessed are they who understand
My faltering step and shaking hand.
Blessed are they who know my ears today
Must strain to hear the things they say.
Blessed are they who seem to know
My eyes are dim and my answers slow.
Blessed are they who look away
When my tea was spilled at the table today.
Blessed are they who with a cheery smile
Will stop to chat for a little while.
Blessed are they who never say
“You’ve told that story twice today.”
Blessed are they who know my ways
And bring back memories of yesterdays.
Blessed are they who ease the days
And care for me in loving ways.
Blessed are they who make it known
I’m loved, respected and not alone.
If you are interested in finding out how you can help with making a difference in someone’s life, check out: