I live in a Retirement Community in Geneva, Illinois. In the early phase of the Pandemic, I realized that many residents lived alone and were isolated from family and friends, and I wanted to do something about that.
My experience as a Parish Nurse and Hospice Chaplain with clinical pastoral experience led me to reach out to my fellow independent residents during the different phases of the Pandemic.
In September 2020, a proposal was developed and presented to management. A Volunteer Outreach Program was launched and sponsored by the Resident Council. The purpose was to create Community by reaching out in the spirit of friendship to over 150 independent living residents and offering support and information on community resources.
After recruiting and training 18 men and women volunteer residents, the volunteers were divided into “neighborhoods.” They began with phone calls and delivery of goodies and cards. When some of the COVID restrictions were lifted, we made visits. We made sure that confidentiality was maintained in the visits. The Outreach Volunteers also act as Mentors to new residents, introducing them to living life in our community. The Outreach Volunteers meet every six weeks to recap and plan future programs.
We continue to keep up with our neighbors, offering fun mixers and, most recently, we began Floor gatherings to introduce and get to know our employees. The employees come to the gathering and tell us about themselves. We also introduce new residents who have recently moved in.
Having the opportunity to serve others has enlightened the lives of many, and mine as well. I trust in God to continue to nudge me to always listen to the call to serve.