On June 4, Winnipeg volunteers participated in HOPE worldwide of Canada’s National Day of Service,“Serving our Elders”. We split into three different events to maximize our impact in Winnipeg – music, food, art and conversation – what could be more encouraging?
The weather cooperated for our first group of volunteers who were serving up burgers and entertainment for the residents of the Madison Supportive Housing. Many of our volunteers had met residents during our Christmas Wishlist interviews – one lucky gift recipient was excited to show off a picture of the gift she received – a hamster! It had been quite apparent to everyone serving in the Christmas Wishlist Program the large number of elderly people living in poverty and homelessness so it seemed natural to come back and serve in a fun and relaxing way. It was wonderful to interact with the residents – both young and old and bring a bit of joy to their days with burgers, music and great conversation.
Our second group of volunteers visited the River East Personal Care Home – youth were partnered with an elder to work together to create a painting together. An experienced artist led the session, helping to encourage and engage all of the participants. Volunteers were also able to provide musical entertainment and company to many residents who are lonely and appreciate the personal interactions. Staff noticed how happy the residents were to engage in this way – and they were able to keep their masterpiece as a keepsake of the day.
A third group was able to help out at the Saturday recreational bingo at the Beacon Hill Personal Care Home. Volunteers worked one-on-one with an elder to assist them while spending time together and striking up a conversation. One of our HOPE volunteers was inspired and has made a commitment to volunteer with seniors on a more regular basis.
Some of our volunteers are caring for their own aging parents and had an opportunity to visit them as part of our day of service. It can be a very sad and lonely life when you age and lose your independence – our visits provided a bit of joy for the seniors as well as a better sense of empathy for our volunteers. The National Day of Service was a enriching day, not only for those being served, but also for those doing the serving.