This semester I decided to get more involved in community service and volunteering and chose to join a new activity. I have always loved volunteering and felt that it was lacking in my life lately, so I signed up to join Adopt-A-Grandparent. It is one of the highlights of my week and one of the best decisions I’ve made yet at UST!
In Adopt-A-Grandparent, once a week a group of about 10 of us heads over to a local nursing home and hangs out with a handful of wonderful elderly adults. I bet you’re all thinking, “Pshh…they probably just play BINGO every week…” You would be correct. And it is…AWESOME! I have never seen anyone play a seemingly simple game so strategically. Take one of the residents Sylvia, for example. Every week once the BINGO cards are brought out, she spends at least 10 minutes staring at all the cards, choosing which three to play this week. Not one of the residents aimlessly picks their BINGO cards…oh no. It is a strategic, decisive process, and one that requires deep concentration and no disruption.
The group of (mainly) women I spend every Monday evening with take their BINGO very seriously. If one of the ladies momentarily breaks one of the game’s rules, at least two or three other residents are quick to point out her mistake and correct it. Every round is a competitive battle, and each week is genuinely looked forward to by all who partake.
I can honestly say that this is one of the best and most fulfilling volunteer opportunities I’ve every participated in. First of all, it is a very little time commitment with a huge benefit to more than just the residents. Not only are the women I get to see every week extremely happy and grateful to have a fabulous group of college kids come play BINGO with them to brighten up their Mondays, I am given an hour and a half once a week to break from the chaos of being a college student. I get to talk to some pretty amazing women, all with vivid stories to tell. Every week I feel disappointed that I must wait a whole week before returning, but also full of happiness and thankfulness that I am given this opportunity to help others and myself. Another thing, it is more than just volunteering…it’s FUN. I have never enjoyed playing BINGO so much as when I play with the residents every Monday night. All the women are so different and enjoyable in their own ways. From Pat, the resident sweetheart, singing old songs from her youth, to Helena cracking jokes throughout the games, every minute is incredibly enjoyable and rewarding.
I would not trade the time I’ve spent with the residents for anything in the world. It’s a time to step outside of myself, my stress, and my own life in order to help others. And by helping them, I’m also helping myself. I highly recommend all students to find SOME way to get involved, whether or not Adopt-A-Grandparent is the right organization for you. VIA (Volunteers in Action) is an amazing on-campus resource that organizes a bunch of different volunteer opportunities, varying from those working with children to Spanish-speaking adults who need help finding jobs. Service and volunteering is not just a matter of benefitting others, but also yourself, and I GUARANTEE you will feel like a better, more whole person through any kind of volunteering.
Tonight is Adopt-A-Grandparent night, so I’ll be sure to tell all the residents that they are now the headline of an internationally known Blog!!! Well, a campus-wide known blog. I’m on my way, right?