National Volunteer Month: Honoring Our Volunteers
Did you know that April is National Volunteer Month? In honor of our extraordinary volunteers, SAGE will be asking a few of them some questions about what they do for our members! Visit the blog on Fridays throughout the month of April for their stories.
Friendly Visitor Volunteer: Stacey Britt Fitzgerald
How long have you volunteered at SAGE?
I’ve been volunteering with Jerre, my 97-year-old superhuman friend, for the last 6 years! I honestly forget that I’m a “volunteer”–Jerre is like family at this point.
What do you do as a Friendly Visitor?
I hang out with Jerre for an hour or so every week. Our activities have evolved over the years. In the beginning my visits were on Sunday afternoons so we would sit and chat and go on walks in the neighborhood. Now our schedule is to meet on Wednesday evenings, so we usually eat dinner together, do some stuff on the computer, and mostly just make each other laugh.
What is your greatest strength? How does it help you as a volunteer?
Probably sense of humor. Being able to make fun of each other has connected us across a 65-year age difference.
How does being a Friendly Visitor make you feel?
I honestly feel so lucky that I’ve been able to build a relationship with someone who’s experienced so much and has shared such amazing stories with me.
What has been your best experience so far?
Oh gosh, there’s so many. Maybe the time I horrified Jerre by bringing enormous 9 and 6 balloons to a restaurant for her 96th birthday. Or the time she taught me to play Scrabble only to be appalled by my (lack of) skills. Or the time we journeyed to the Brooklyn Museum to see the HIDE/SEEK exhibit. But definitely the most meaningful was when Jerre told me that she thought SAGE did a pretty good job matching us up together. I agree.
Awww, that is so sweet! Would you recommend others being a Friendly Volunteer? Why or why not?
A resounding yes! These seniors are the warriors who came before us! They fought the good fight and they deserve our respect and service. And maybe a younger person who lives to embarrass them.
Is there anything else you would like to share?
I’m so grateful to SAGE for providing crucial services for our LGBT elders.
We are so grateful to you and others who do such great work! Thank you!
Corporate Volunteer: Alyssa Nieves from Barclays SPECTRUM Network
When did you volunteer at SAGE?
Last week! March 30th, to be exact.
What did you do?
I served dinner to SAGE members. This was quite an experience as I never worked as a hostess/waitress. I moved around the room and mingled with the members while they were having dinner. Engaged in some wonderful conversation and met wonderful extraordinary people.
Do you volunteer often?
Yes, I often volunteer. I believe in making a difference and giving back. Each time I volunteer at any event I learn so much from people. I feel so blessed and honored and the only way for me to give back is to volunteer and let people know that strangers do care and people do matter. One can make a difference.
What is your greatest strength? How does it help you volunteer?
Hmmm, this one is difficult to answer. I get my strength from others. I learn and I try to give back. This may sound silly but recently I learned how to make a rose with a pen/pencil and duck tape. I then took this learning skill and showed it at one of my other volunteer events. So I take and give back. If ever I get invited to a SAGE activities arts/craft event I can show them how to make roses too!
How does volunteering make you feel?
Oh my so blessed and rewarding. If I can make someone happy or do something good for someone this makes it all worthwhile. If I make a difference then I served my purpose. When I was serving dinner at SAGE so many people were thankful. I received some great hugs and words of gratitude, that alone is worth it!
What was your experience like at SAGE?
The SAGE team members welcomed us with open arms. The staff and members were so excited that we were there for them and expressed their appreciation. I even got invited to the SAGE Talent Show in April 30, 2015, which I plan on attending!
Would you come back to volunteer?