Volunteering: Give a Bit of Yourself

Posted by: The Bristal

Dear Readers,

After welcoming the holiday season with Thanksgiving (both literally and emotionally), it gives me great pleasure to write this entry and to wish all of my faithful and thoughtful readers the happiest, healthiest and most hopeful time — for you and all of your loved ones.

I thank you for another year of challenging Senior Living questions. They have provided me with an invaluable forum for sharing information I believe is touching families… and there is no greater privilege that we are given during this lifetime than to reach out and touch other lives. Not just those immediately around us, which is easy enough to do, but to dare to extend out of our comfort zone and impact a stranger in need. Again, not just by writing a check or clicking a box on a charitable Web site (both of which acts are still wonderfully giving), but, in addition, to physically meet and speak with another person, especially during a time when our connections are becoming so overwhelmingly digital; and thus, virtual.

In fact, I am putting forth a personal challenge to all who read this blog. Why not team up with a friend or a loved one — or even two or three — and visit a local nursing home? Stop by a nearby Assisted Living community. The Bristal has several on Long Island. Ask the front desk if you can just pay a brief visit and sit with a senior or two. Think about it. You just may come across an elderly gentleman or woman whose only visit this season will be you. How important and vital would that simple act feel to an individual that lonely and neglected? Imagine your own mom or dad in their place. It’s enough to shake you to your soul.

I urge you, dear readers, set aside a quiet morning or afternoon during the next week or two. Bring others with you. Put the madness of Black Fridays and Cyber Mondays behind you; turn away from economic and presidential politics for a moment; take a break from the inevitable hustle and bustle that these weeks will surely bring, and connect with a segment of our community that is so often set aside and forgotten, despite the fact that in other cultures of the world, the elderly are revered. In addition to the gifts you will bestow this year, give something whose value cannot be measured: Give a portion of yourself to a senior in care. Share something priceless, like your time. And when you do, don’t be surprised by just how much you’ll end up getting back.

Cheers to you all… and to a happy and healthy holiday season!

Maryellen McKeon

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