Tuesday, January 11, 2011

New Experience

I am thrilled to report that Time Warner has thrown everything but the kitchen sink at my internet problem and I think it is finally working! We had two vans and a cherry picker in our cul-de-sac for about 3 1/2 hours yesterday. They sent their senior tech managers and they fixed or replaced every thing they could at our house and in the surrounding area. Thanks Randy, Donnie, Alex, Aaron, Lee, Michael and Bob! You were awesome to work with, but I hope I never see you guys again. That is all.

I am so glad that I can blog today, because I had such a wonderful experience this morning that I couldn't wait to write about.

My friend Martha asked last week if I wanted to volunteer with her at a outreach program at a subsidized apartment complex downtown. They provide a meal and do some crafts with the residents there every other month or so. I said yes. Volunteering to feed the homeless is number 2 on my life list you know. These folks weren't homeless exactly, but I knew that this was an opportunity to make a small difference to someone less fortunate AND it sounded kinda fun.

There is FOOD - you all know I am a regular lover of all things food related. There are CRAFTS - did you not see me spring into action on the Pringle Can Nutcracker and the Bad Farm sign? Crafts are right up my alley.

I will admit that I was a little nervous. Going into something new for the first time is always a little nerve wracking. In a good way.

Once we got there and started working, milling about, talking, visiting and serving the time just flew by. It was not quite what I expected. It was better.

In my head, I was picturing a nursing home environment with old and infirmed people, but that picture was all wrong.

It was an apartment building. Twelve stories high with 14 tee tiny apartments on each floor. The residents were not all old or infirmed. Some were, but most were not. Some were in wheelchairs or had walkers, but most didn't. I think to live in this facility you have to be self sufficient. It wasn't like people had just a room, they had their own small home with living room, kitchen and a bedroom. Not any bigger than a hotel room.

These were just people. Nice people. Funny people. Neighbors and friends. Polite people of every shade, nationality, age and shape. There were so thankful for the effort and seemed to sincerely enjoy the company of each other and us.

We served brunch with breakfast tacos, hashbrown casserole, fruit, coffee, juice, etc. Most of the residents came down to the common area to eat and others we delivered meals to their apartments. I mostly worked the dining room area getting a plate for those that couldn't get around too well, fixing drinks, getting refills, clearing trash. I thought I was rocking the waitress duty until I proved otherwise when I grabbed the OJ to refill some cups. I thought the lid was screwed on - it wasn't. I shook the OJ - the lid flew off - the juice spilled. ALOT. Like I shook it hard with no lid. ALOT. I looked up to see who saw me and a sweet little woman was glancing my direction. I said "Did you see that?" She laughed. Glad I wasn't standing next to someone, they would have been a sticky mess. Whoops.

I had some great conversations and laughs. I met Michelle who was probably my age and has lived there for three years. Just about everyone said hello to her as they came in. She has three kids. I don't think they lived there with her. I didn't get to hear her whole story, but we chatted as people do when they are new to each other. I learned a bit about her and she learned a little about me.

I met "Mama" in Apt 1112. I brought her a meal. She said as I hugged her neck "I love having company, I love talking and I LOVE food." Woman after my own heart.

Met another fella who was in a wheelchair. He needed help getting his meal back to his apartment. As we were heading out, the lady in charge said "DO NOT go in his place because you will not be able to leave. He loves to talk." She wasn't kidding. He loved to talk, but he was interesting and it was easy enough to lend him an ear for a few minutes.

After the meal wound down, we had fleece scarves to make as the craft and they were not just super cute, but superemely useful on this super cold day. It was not much different than working Chip's third grade Christmas craft. Get them started and then just spend your time exclaiming how wonderful they are and how envious you are of their beautiful project.

It was gratifying in such a sincere way. Tonya is the wonderful lady who runs the whole volunteer operation. She is very organized, very sweet and said before the residents came in..."the most important thing you can do today is not serving, but just visiting, talking, listening, interacting". Just human to human. She was right.

I might have made someone's day today with just a touch, a smile, a word...and you know what they made my day right back. I can't wait to do it again.

Happy Wednesday!

1 comment:

  1. Nursing homes make me sad but so does the color yellow.
    You did make someone's day Chip's Mom. Those people love visitors. When I go to see a patient at the NH, all the others get jealous and try to get my attention. Often shouting take my blood pressure, are you my nurse or hey, I need to use the bathroom. Sometimes, I relent but most times I try to get out as quick as possible and that also makes me sad.