Posted by: Rebecca Russell and Stephanie Celifie
Volunteering at Vanderman was one of the best decisions we could have made this year. From the first day volunteering, we (Rebecca and Stephanie) connected with the residents and workers so well. The residents were happy to see some new faces at the facility. They were making jokes and asking us questions about our lives. We were hooked instantly. When our designated days to volunteer came up, we couldn’t wait to catch up with the residents. We had many responsibilities and joined in many activities with the residents.
Some of our duties included resident transportation from their rooms to the recreation room serve refreshments, and handing out snacks. Tuesday and Wednesdays were reserved for games and movie night. Responsibilities during game nights included rolling dice for those who needed the help, played as mediator during disputes if any confusion arose, and handed out prizes for the winner. During movie night, our responsibilities included keeping residents company and creating conversation. On Thursdays, the residents baked all sorts of cookies and made holiday chocolate lollipops. Our role during this time included helping the residents combine ingredients, roll cookie dough into balls, placing on trays, and decorate with sprinkles and frosting.
Our involvement with the residents seemed to have an impact on their lives. The residents always asked when they would see us next and they would get excited every time they saw us walking into the recreation room. They were interested in our lives and loved to exchange stories. The employees even noticed how involved the residents were becoming after we began spending time with them. Our community service at Vanderman Place helped the residents cope with needing assistance because we made them feel independent by the activities we included them in. We were improving their lives as they were improving ours.
Volunteering at Vanderman taught us many things about ourselves and about life. We learned just how precious our time is and it should be spent with family and friends. The wisdom we gained from sharing stories with the residents will help us become better people. Our level of patience, acceptance, understanding, and even our ability to laugh and have fun were strengthened. This experience has meant a lot to us because we are giving these individuals something to look forward to every week and that is such a rewarding feeling. We hope future volunteers continue the work and dedication because we realize how happy it makes the residents.