by Shelley Weinreb
CHAI (Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.)
It’s a great mitzvah (good deed) to do a kindness for another person. Our sages tell us that each act of kindness is counted and recalled on the ‘Day of Judgment.’ There’s even a tradition that says that every mitzvah we do creates its own angel that testifies on our behalf. Here in this world, we can testify to the wonderful lift we experience when we help another person. In fact, there’s perhaps no better cure for the blues than the warm feeling of making a positive difference in someone’s life.
Here in northwest Baltimore, we are blessed to have a new organization that gives volunteers many opportunities to make a noticeable difference in seniors’ lives: Northwest Neighbors Connecting (NNC).
Developed with the help of local seniors, THE ASSOCIATED: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore and CHAI (Comprehensive Housing Assistance, Inc.), NNC brings neighbors together by connecting older adults with volunteers to create a growing, responsive “village” or network of support. Volunteers give their time to help in a variety of life-enhancing ways. Here are seven of the most popular:
1. Be the “wheels” they no longer have
If you’ve ever had to insist that a senior stop driving, you know how difficult it can be. Not being able to go anywhere you want, whenever you want, feels like a prison sentence to many who fear the loss of their independence. By driving a senior to the doctor, store, library, etc., you help restore their sense of independence and empowerment. You, in turn, can make new friends, hear new stories and learn about the area where you live, just by giving someone a ride.
2. Check in with a visit or phone call
In August of 2003, a “holocaust of the elderly” occurred in France when over 10,000 seniors died in the worst heat wave on record. Many of them lived alone and perished from the heat simply because no one looked in on them. This is an extreme example of the importance of this simple, kind mitzvah that can brighten someone’s life or save it. Through NNC, you can volunteer to be a friendly caller and keep tabs on your neighbor.
3. Take a senior shopping
Whether it’s a trip to the supermarket or the mall, taking an older adult shopping is a wonderful mitzvah that promotes independence and helps them feel functional and “normal.” It also takes them out of their home, where they spend almost all their time. Taking a senior shopping is a wonderful experience for your kids as well.
4. Do light chores
Assisting with simple chores around the house is greatly appreciated, from changing a light bulb to taking out the trash.
5. Help with computers or cellphones
You don’t need to be a super techie to help a senior make sense of today’s phones and computers. If you’re patient and can explain the basics in simple, step-by-step language, you can bring a senior into the 21st century. Activities like setting up a Facebook account, programming numbers into a phone and helping a senior email her grandchildren open up a whole new world for an older adult.
6. Join a Northwest Neighbors Connecting committee
Volunteering for an NNC committee is a great way to get to know the organization and its family of members. NNC needs volunteers for its Advocacy Committee, Caring Committee, Service Coordination Committee, Outreach Committee, Finance Committee and more.
7. Become a friend
When a person volunteers, their focus is on giving, not receiving. But the truth is that giving always comes with a hidden gift. And at NNC, that gift is the relationships formed. More than the typical organization, NNC is a community of members and volunteers who are there for each other as friends…connecting and caring.
To learn more about joining or volunteering for NNC, call Risyl Edelman at 410-500-5319 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
For a first-hand look, come to one of NNC’s June events:
• June 6, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. – Retirement Chat, 3721 Glen Avenue
• June 12, 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. – Emergency Preparedness Information Session, Myerberg Senior Center, 3101 Fallstaff Road
• June 25, 2:00 – 4:00 p.m. – NNC General Meeting Weinberg Park, 5833 Park Heights Avenue
• June 30, 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. – White Elephant Sale, Myerberg Senior Center, 3101 Fallstaff Road