All PVE residents are fortunate in being able to choose opportunities from a wish list of volunteer activities that draw on our strengths, talents and interests. Many of us have contentedly volunteered for many years by pouring juice, calling bingo, sharing pets, or playing the piano. There are myriad ways to express concern and compassion for friends in failing health.
Occasionally we need to exercise a little self-discernment. In the words of a former vice-presidential contender: “Is it workin’ for ya?” What benefits accrue to us as willing helpers? Do we volunteer because of a genuine desire to interact with residents who have serious health issues? Do we get a sense of satisfaction each time we sign the Volunteer Book and begin our tasks? Do we have an attitude of cheerful optimism when we enter a patient’s room? Do we project a positive energy as we play for a sing-along or intone “G-49”—repeating it clearly for bingo players with hearing loss? Are we willing and engaged listeners to stories we may have heard dozens of times from patients with memory lapses?
Volunteering is a two-way proposition. As long as it’s beneficial to both parties, it’s a successful strategy. When we see smiles of recognition as we push a juice cart down the hall, when an excited player whispers “Bingo!” and hands over his card for verification, when a happy resident stretches out her arms to receive a friendly canine visitor, and when a patient sings the words of a familiar old favorite, we know our efforts are appreciated and worthwhile.
On those rare days when patients are uncomfortable or in pain and decline our best efforts to entertain them, we should not take it as rejection. As volunteers, it’s part of our job description to have an awareness and sensitivity that go beyond the activity we’re engaged in.
We accept the generous hospitality of the Laurel Creek staff and might consider a shout-out for a partnership that grows stronger as our years here unfold: “Yeah, it’s workin’ for us!” Thanks to all volunteers for making Paradise Valley Estates a practical, caring community.