My name is Akiva, and I am a freshman in high school. Over the summer, while spending time with my aunt, we decided to volunteer for the Clayton County Meals on Wheels program. On my first day of volunteering, I met Jamie, the manager of the program. She’s very nice and friendly and gave my aunt and me instructions on delivering the meals. So far, I’ve volunteered on four routes.
One stop was at the house of Ms. Denson. She’s 94 years old, although she looks much younger than that. My aunt, Ms. Denson, and I made a great connection. She talked to us about some of her troubles, and we even prayed with her about them. Since volunteering, I’ve found that there are many people like Ms. Denson. Older gentlemen and ladies who are in need of food and would like someone to talk to.
Another stop was to Mr. Smith, an 81-year-old blind man who lives in a senior apartment building. He was very friendly and told us a story about how he got his large tv. Despite his vision impairment, he seemed to know his way around his apartment just fine. It reminded me to be thankful that I have all my vision. When my aunt and I left Mr. Smith’s home, I questioned why he had on dark sunglasses inside the apartment. My aunt explained that sometimes glasses are worn as protection from bright lights and objects.
One more memorable person I delivered a meal to was a 95-year-old WWII veteran. We were invited into his home by his son who told us stories about his father’s days in service. He was bedridden, and I could tell that he was happy to see and talk to us. His son was very eager and proud to recount his dad’s achievements.
Through this experience I’ve learned that it takes patience when working with older adults. For instance, it may take longer for someone to come to the door, or you may need to repeat yourself several times if they are hard of hearing. I’ve also learned some things about myself. I realized that I’m pretty shy towards older people, mainly because I never talk to them. It’s easier to relate to someone my age because we grew up around the same things. However, with older adults, it’s harder to find something to connect on.
Volunteering is teaching me how to communicate with the elderly and building up my confidence in interactions with them. During this process, I’m learning the importance of being grateful for the ability to take care of my daily activities and how to have compassion for those who cannot.
I appreciate Jamie and the Clayton County Meals on Wheels program for allowing me to volunteer, and I would recommend this sort of volunteer work for anyone who is looking to do something kind for someone else. We were told that the Meals on Wheels program is always in need of volunteers. If you live in Clayton County, please consider reaching out to Jamie Carlington at the Clayton County Aging Program to volunteer, and if you live outside of Clayton, locate your local Meals on Wheels program to volunteer.