Q: Why did you decide to volunteer for the Council on Aging?
Pat: The site manager at the Sisters meal site needed more volunteers because the program had tripled – the Council on Aging went from serving lunch once a week to three days a week. And even though it was during the early days of COVID, it felt pretty safe to interact with people.
Carol: I don’t have kids, so I felt pretty isolated. It was nice to just have a social connection that was also helpful. And I happen to like kitchens and food prep stuff. It was fun to do something positive for the community. It’s an hour and a half, which makes it easy to commit. Initially, I was filling in a couple of days a week, and when they were short volunteers, I never stopped. So Pat and I have become part of a regular Wednesday group.
Q: What else do you find rewarding about volunteering for the Council on Aging?
Pat: Orienting new volunteers. Carol and I are pretty organized. We put together a system so the process runs a little smoother.
Carol: We can depend on each other. Both Pat and I both know the whole system, and we trade off doing different jobs. It’s nice when you go in, and you know what needs to be done, and you just do it without even asking. And it has been fun working with Pat. I really enjoy it.
Q: Is the experience helping you grow as a person?
Pat: It offers you an opportunity to use compassion when talking to people and try to raise their spirits a bit. I see that as a big plus when the people come by, even though they’re in their car, and it’s a grab-and-go situation. People seem to really appreciate just a little bit of conversation. Whether they come every Wednesday or all three days every week, there’s a little touchpoint here. It’s nice to say hi to their dog and give away some dog biscuits once in a while.
Carol: So it’s nice to have that Wednesday to look forward to. It’s always kind of upbeat and enjoyable time. I also feel like I have a purpose and that I contributed in some way that day. And that’s a nice feeling. Like any volunteering, it’s a good, good feeling. And I marked that date like Pat does on a calendar and book the rest of my life around it. So I look forward to Wednesdays and to have that contact with other volunteers.
Pat: It’s nice to learn about other people and some of their circumstances. It just broadens your perspective on life and the community.