Thursday, May 15, 2014

A Note from Sandy - Take Time to Listen

This month is set aside to honor the older Americans among us.  I have had to privilege to work with the Senior Population for about 10 years now.  I’ve met hundreds of seniors over that time, and have come to appreciate their value. My life has been touched by so many different smiling faces and kind expressions of “Thanks”. Serving the older generation has taught me many lessons, and gives me a sense of satisfaction.  I have many examples of persons that I could tell you about, but I will focus on a couple.

We were able to help a nice older lady, Shirley, for several years. Shirley was housebound. A volunteer generously offered to deliver a box of food to her each month. Every month before her delivery I would call her to remind her that the volunteer would be coming. It was as if she was waiting to hear from me.  She was so happy to hear my voice, as I was hers.  I would take the time to talk with her each time, 15 minutes or so.  Perhaps it was the only time each month she had outside interaction, I am not sure.  But each time we spoke she would tell me about the “Good Old Days” and raising her seven sons.

She told me of how hard she worked gardening to provide food for them. She experienced several great losses during the years I knew her. She would tell me about her sadness, and how she endured.  And, every time without fail she would thank me over and over how much she appreciated what the Food Bank was doing to help her. I never met her in person, just got to know her over the phone.  Her soft voice told me how kind and how frail she was. Without fail, every month, she would end our conversation with “Good-bye, I love you…” Sadly one month I called her to remind her of her delivery, her son answered.  She had passed away. He expressed his gratitude to me for the help that his mom had received from the Food Bank,  and he told me how I touched her life by being kind and taking a few minutes each month to talk to her. This experience will stay with me forever.

I also met a dear lady named Delores. Every month, without fail she came carrying “goodies” when she picked up her box of food. She would get up early on the day of the distribution, bake fresh brownies, sugar cookies, and bacon wrapped hot-dogs, dipped in butter and brown sugar.  I know this does not sound healthy… but several of the volunteers worked outside, in the cold winter or hot summer. Everyone couldn’t wait until she got there – looking forward to her treats! She would pack special packages for her favorite volunteers and a special package for me to bring home to my young son. Such kindness from someone of little means. She would come wearing a friendly smile, giving out hugs along with the treats. Turns out, we weren’t the only ones she brought treats to. She did this for many in the community, even the gas station clerk. Not only was she generous with the treats, she was generous with her time and limited resources. She was a volunteer driver, helping others in the community that were in need. Our lives were forever touched by this person’s acts of kindness and appreciation for what help she received at the Food Bank.

These experiences taught me many lessons, but most importantly; take time to get to know the older ones among us. They have so much value! Because they are advanced in years, they have so much experience and wisdom. Take time to listen, lend them a helping hand, and be assured that you will be the one leaving with the “gift”.

Sandy McKay, CSFP Coordinator

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