To say that volunteers matter in our Assisted Living communities is an understatement. We rely on people with good hearts to contribute to creating the type of environment where seniors can feel a sense of belonging and share an emotional connection. Many times, the grown son or daughter of a resident offers to help out. In other cases, we hear from performers or those who simply want to do what they can.
It takes a very special person to put selfish pursuits aside and work toward improving the lives of others, but volunteering offers surprising benefits while providing a sense of purpose. There’s so much bad in the world today. Volunteers restore a balance, even with simple gestures of kindness, making a statement about maintaining our humanity to one another and changing things for the better.
Monique Dykstra, Regency’s Activities Director at Regency Retirement Village in Huntsville, said the benefits of volunteering are many. These include:
The Challenge of Stimulating Others
It feels deeply fulfilling to know you’ve made a difference in the quality of someone’s life. One does not have to follow Hinduism or Buddhism to comprehend the concept of Karma. That is, believing that good things come to those who are good people. In essence, everything we do creates a corresponding energy that comes back to us in some form or another. In Christianity, this may be expressed as following the Golden Rule, treating today’s seniors in the way we hope we are treated when the day arrives to be in the same situation.
The Opportunity to Share in Spirituality
A person does not necessarily have to be religious to volunteer, but a spirit of volunteerism is central to the tenets of most theologies. Volunteering is the act of expressing our belief in a greater good, and many of the people who join us in our mission share a devotion to this cause. It is, thus, a joyful opportunity to worship with our senior residents. Stepping up to help is testimony through action.
Enhanced Personal Contact in Inter-Generational Programs
Our volunteers know that seniors are precious to society and offer great wisdom. Time spent with them is an education. Our volunteers form personal relationships with residents and each other. Committing to shared activities cures loneliness and creates a chance to make new friends.
Increased Understanding of Aged Persons
Younger people who want to work in programs that serve seniors gain a more complete understanding of the circumstances that they encounter in their daily lives. Being around them regularly deepens this comprehension of how to best serve aging people.
Greater Sense of Community
The manner with which a city or town treats its senior citizens speaks volumes about it. When visiting an unfamiliar city, one simply grasps when the people who live there genuinely care about aging populations. Volunteering at Regency or another Assisted Living community enhances the quality of life for the seniors who reside within. It may be entirely unspoken, yet this community pride shines through when people visit. It is a piece of the puzzle that forms to complete a vision of a place people want to live.
A Chance to Gain in Personal Confidence
Often, our volunteers are performers who visit to entertain our residents with their talents with music, magic shows, or other presentations. Receiving praise and handshakes from an appreciative audience does wonders for self-esteem.
A Chance to Try Out Leadership Skills
Particularly for youth who volunteer at Regency, this action gives them opportunities to step up and take charge that reap rewards later in life in a variety of situations. On a purely utilitarian level, volunteering looks great on a resume and demonstrates to prospective professional references that you are a person worth vouching for when the time arrives.
Recognizing Those Who Give Back
At Regency, we make a special effort to recognize our volunteers because we love and appreciate them. The least we can do is bring attention to their good works, express our gratitude, and enjoy some fellowship.
Dykstra said the Huntsville community enjoys a strong base of volunteers, including groups involved in weekly, monthly or quarterly activities.
“Our volunteers range from members of the Huntsville Symphony doing live performances in the dining room and Ascension Lutheran with church service to Huntsville Dream Center showing up to help us serve over 400 people for Christmas, and Donna, Kathy or Tom (all residents’ family members) calling Bingo on the weekend. Of course, we also have four or five live church services each weekend, all performed by various churches from the local community. This doesn’t count the irregular volunteers such as the HSV Youth Symphony, art classes, pop-up concerts and more,” Dykstra said.
Volunteering as a family also gives children a firsthand opportunity to experience how good it feels to help other people and enact change for the better. Stress, anger, and anxiety fade when we become part of a solid support system, and researchers find that being helpful to others delivers immense pleasure. Plus, children are more likely to grow up with a positive view of life and a sense of pride and identity. When those kids grow up and their parents are the ones in Assisted Living, they will understand the importance of giving back and staying involved. To learn more about becoming a volunteer or resident at one of our communities, contact the local Executive Director or dial (615) 598-0245 to speak to one of our community contacts for Regency Senior Living.
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