Time is valuable. Time is that elusive thing that burdens our souls, binds us to a particular place or causes our heart to beat a little faster. As the old year came to a close and the New Year started, I really began to dissect my time spent in 2017 and how it carried over into the New Year. I thought carefully about different days and the feelings associated with those days. I also began to connect the dots to my time and the effect of MY time on the Elders I serve. How do we all budget more time in our lives to spend with the precious elders who need us most? Then an even bigger question began to arise: How do I help others find time to sit with our elders’ one on one? What sort of army would we need to accomplish this one great task?
With this question and thought I began to speak with Karla Humphrey, Volunteer Coordinator for SHC, about her new role in the organization. Simply put, she’s the connecting point between people who want to spend time with Elders and the Elders themselves. What a beautiful place to be. The discussion between us grew to her new project and the importance of not only locating people in a world that is so busy but helping them streamline their volunteerism in an efficient way so everyone benefits.
Karla has been busy growing her new project which she lovingly calls James 1:27 Mission Project, in a group of pilot communities across SHC. Our Hometown division has launched this project in 10 of its 56 communities. The mission is clear: to locate volunteers who feel called to serve in this capacity, certify them (arming them with all the tools for success) and then turn them loose in the community to spend time with elders in meaningful ways.
The program’s success has been phenomenal in just a few short months. Since the program’s launch at Riverside Care and Rehabilitation, the number of certified volunteers has grown from zero to 21 in less than six months.
While it is wonderful to grow the number of volunteers, it is more critical to grow the number of meaningful interactions that takes place between Elders and other individuals. During this time frame, volunteers logged an incredible 926 one to one hours with Elders at Riverside. Volunteers are being paired with elders by using the Simply Me. Volunteers in the program complete their own and then are paired with Elders who have similar interests. This connection point is what initially brought Grace and Joan together. Grace, a certified volunteer at Riverside, sets up a special lunch with Joan once a month to continue Joan’s lifelong tradition of having lunch out with the girls.
Volunteers bring magic to the lives of our Elders. It’s not the “ta-da” of programming magic but the magic of normalcy. The feeling that it is ok to “sit and be still” in the moment with no agenda, no schedule and no tasks at hand. This normalcy is much needed and often craved by our Elders who experience the pain of loneliness each day.
For more information on the James 1:27 Mission Project, feel free to contact Karla Humphrey or myself.