We have all heard the saying that if you do what you love, you’ll never work a day in your life. For many, this means we always look forward to continuing a job. Whether you’re embarking on a new career or becoming a volunteer, that phrase speaks volumes as to whether or not you will stick with your choices.
At the Chelsea Jewish Lifecare North Shore Campus, we have a plethora of activities that keep our residents strong, healthy and engaged; all are enhanced through volunteers. These activities include yoga, trivia, armchair travel, shopping outings, musical entertainment and collaborative programs with local schools and colleges, to name a few. The activities provide a wide array of social, physical and emotional benefits for our residents. Yet beyond this, the interactions with staff and volunteers who coordinate and oversee these activities create a unique benefit for our residents — one that cannot be measured or quantified.
As part of my role as Director of Resident Life on the North Shore Campus, I am responsible for developing and nurturing a cadre of volunteers. We’re always on the hunt for genuinely good people! In fact, everyone who volunteers has the potential to shine at what they do as well as the ability to help others. Typically, volunteers are assigned to a particular area where help is needed. However, I have found that both the residents and volunteers benefit the most when our volunteers are involved in something that speaks to their heart. Over the years, I’ve found wonderful people volunteer to assist with a variety of activities. I’ve also noticed that the volunteers who stay the longest are the ones who gain personal enjoyment and fulfillment from the activities.
Here are a few examples of my experiences working with volunteers. One volunteer named Nancy spent time helping us run our gift kiosk. She did a great job, but eventually approached me to say she honestly didn’t enjoy it. Rather than have her leave us, I asked about her favorite hobbies and activities. She told me that she loved playing Canasta. Turns out, I knew three ladies at our Assisted Living Residence who were looking for a fourth player to join their game. Boom! It was a perfect fit. Nancy started playing regularly with the women and built a wonderful rapport with them. Soon after, she told me how much she enjoyed her time with the ladies and how much she looked forward to volunteering each week.
Virginia, on the other hand, was a volunteer who was excited at the prospect of running the gift kiosk. Not only did she enjoy greeting residents and staff, her forte was design and sales. Virginia revamped the entire gift kiosk on her very first day. It went from looking tired and weary to being an eye-catching display. Now it had a much-needed “wow” factor.
From my experiences working with volunteers, I can honestly say that assigning volunteers to specific tasks may get those tasks completed; however it doesn’t always deliver unique and immeasurable benefits. When we let our volunteers choose their activity, we ensure that they will have a great time. They are doing what they love to do and our residents will feel that as well. In the end, personal satisfaction and fulfillment from doing what one loves is what drives our volunteers to continue visiting our residents for a long time to come.
To our many volunteers who do a multitude of tasks and activities for our residents, we say “thank you” from the bottom of our hearts for the joy you are creating from the bottom of yours!
This blog is courtesy of Ellen Gordon, Director of Resident Life at the Chelsea Jewish Lifecare North Shore Campus.