Volunteering This Week at Senior Centers Changed My Life
During March for Meals week, I was asked by People for People to volunteer my time serving lunch at area senior centers. It has been the highlight of my entire year thus far.
On Monday, I went to the Selah Civic Center and served lunch to some delightful people out there.
On Tuesday, I was having an emotionally rough day, but I still made time to head out to the Henry Beauchamp Community Center to serve lunch there. I was invited to stay for lunch, so I sat down with a table full of people I had never met before. I especially enjoyed meeting Blanca and a lady named Judy. By the end of the lunch, my mood was brightened and I was grateful to have met some amazing people. (Hi, Blanca! Hope you have fun at your next casino night!)
Today (Thursday), I volunteered to serve lunch at the Harman Center. I was invited to stay and eat, so I grabbed my plate of cornbread, chili, baked potato and veggies, and sat down with one of the seniors who was sitting at a table all by himself. He told me his name was Roger. I told him my name was Reesha but he kept calling me Rita. Finally, I said, "It's OK, Roger, you can call me 'Rita' if you want to."
I felt like the Oprah of Yakima, asking Roger all these questions about his life story, and he didn't seem to mind telling me all about himself. He was born in Wapato and had worked for the Bell Telephone Co. in his younger years. I told him I was originally from Nashville, Tenn., and he replied, "They had important battles in Tennessee, in the Civil War. I know all about it." I nodded at him quizzically, wondering why he had just said that as if he had actually been there when it happened! Maybe he was, who really knows?
After my lunch and chit-chat with Roger and the other ladies who had joined our table, I moved around the room like a social butterfly, aiming to meet some of the others who had come to the Harman for lunch. A lady in a bright yellow shirt -- Pat was her name -- had finished up her chili and was typing a text message on her phone.
"Goodbye, Pat, it was so nice to meet you," I told her. Her face lit up and she told me, "You should stay and play a card game with us at noon."
What an excellent idea!
I ended up playing four rounds of Hand & Foot.
My team got SMOKED by the other team, but I had so much fun playing cards and hanging with Mary, Sue, Janice and Lois. They, too, brightened my day up beyond what I can describe.
You see, lately, I have been so busy being a parent, running errands, working hard, studying for exams, paying bills and worrying about this, that and the other, that I have truly forgotten what it feels like to hang out, make new friends and just relax and enjoy being alive and healthy. I realized that I have been taking so much for granted, and volunteering this week for People for People has been a game-changer for me, no pun intended.
I encourage everyone to carve out some time out of your life to volunteer serving lunch and spending some time getting to know our wonderful seniors at a senior center near you!