My Community Service Experience

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For North Coast School it was required I do 30 hours of community service. My first thoughts were mainly negative, and I dreaded everything about doing community service. Now that I have fully completed my hours, I feel I learned a lot, not only about the elderly and assisted living, but about myself too.

For my community service experience I decided to help out at the Sarah A. Reed Retirement Center. I chose this community service because I never really worked with the elderly and I wanted to try a new experience. Sarah A. Reed was the first president and the center was started by a group of women who felt it was necessary to have a place for women and children to go and seek shelter in emergencies, such as abusive families and widows. It was founded in 1871, and as time went on they could see the elderly needed a place also, so there was a split in 1890.

My service consisted of assisting the residents to their activities and helping those that need a little more help play too. By doing this service I worked to enhance the day-to-day lives of the assisted living. I worked with the residents to play bingo and casino games and passed ice cream out at the end of each activities session. Sometimes passing out ice cream was even difficult because each resident had a different required diet. I also helped with the monthly birthday parties to which all the residents were invited. I did little things that needed done around the activities department office also, such as paperwork and rewinding video cassettes. As my community service hours were nearly completed, my service changed because I got more responsibilities to fulfill.

When I first started my volunteer hours, the residents were very set in their ways and didn’t seem to enjoy my presence. I feel that at first they just viewed me as another new staff member. As time progressed I began to connect more with each individual, which was one of my goals. At the end, I felt the residents viewed me as more of a friend than a worker, and I felt the
same connection with many of them. When I first started I had never even pushed a wheel chair and had troubles stearing, etc. I couldn’t hear many of the residents and had a hard time understanding them, but this changed as I learned how to cope with the elderly and help them in more ways than one. Eventually I formed a connection with them and they started to remember me.

During this experience I enjoyed bonding with the residents and making new friends. I also liked learning more about what comes with old age, because it prepares me not only for old age myself, but it benefits my grandparents too. Another thing I liked was merely the joy of being able to help others. The thing I liked the least is the fact that many of the assisted living residents did not get to go outside very often. I feel I got a lot out my community service experience as a volunteer.

While doing my hours I was introduced to many people that were challenging to be with. For instance, one of the ladies I worked with at bingo couldn’t remember much. She couldn’t hear very well and couldn’t make out the numbers on the cards. Not only this, but her shaky hands wouldn’t allow her to reach the numbers on the far side of the card. This lady was very much in her own world, and talked about many very random, meaningless topics. She was the absolute sweetest lady, but it was complicated to assist her. I learned what ways I needed to help her in order to suit her needs. It truly did feel good to be able to help people, regardless of the difficulties.

If I were in charge of the Sarah A. Reed Retirement Center volunteer program I would work to get more volunteers in order to provide extra one on one time with the residents. I feel the residents should be given more outside time. I also believe there should be more volunteer options and a wider variety of games that are not too complicated for the residents. I feel my main contribution to the Sarah A. Reed Retirement Center was assisting the elderly in participating in activities. I was their legs for the legs they couldn't use, I was their hands for
their own shaky hands that provided no grip, and I was their guide for the absence of mind due to old age. I helped them to have a good time even though they were stuck in a retirement home. I also feel that the community service contributed to myself because I learned a lot and met a lot of fascinating people.

During my experience, I realized sometimes people, including myself, become lazy and take the ability to do work for granted. I know if given the opportunity to walk, run, and do work again, the residents would jump right out of their wheel chair. Community service at the Sarah A. Reed Retirement Center is vital to my community, because we should make the elderly and assisted living enjoy their lives while they still can. They do need extra help, and volunteers provide just that. I feel that more of our youth should get involved in helping our community. Working to help our community has so many benefits, it makes you feel good about yourself, and you learn a few things too.





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