Another year is coming to a close and we are happy to report that in communities all over the country, hundreds of volunteers spent time with thousands of people who reside in long-term facilities. We celebrated holidays and we talked and listened and, most importantly, we let people know they are not forgotten.
I have been a Holiday Project volunteer since 1980 and I have visited and spent time with thousands of people spending holidays confined in institutions. Many of these people are forgotten, especially on Christmas Day. Just a small amount of my time makes a big difference to those visited, to their families and to the people working at these facilities.
For several years our family was able to volunteer to visit residents in Houston-area nursing homes on Thanksgiving. That includes children and friends of the family. We all enjoy it very much and can TELL from the people we visit how much it means to them to have the interest in them and their stories - plus the hugs! We will volunteering again this year!
I have coordinated Holiday Project volunteer visits in Houston with Volunteer Houston, since December 2002. I have been blessed to not only experience actual heartwarming visits with nursing home residents and skilled nursing rehab patients but I have also been blessed as an overseer, watching the residents, patients and volunteers interact with each other. It is truly priceless and very emotional to watch complete strangers interact with such love and compassion for one another. If you want to experience the incredible feeling of giving without any expectation of getting anything in return, plan a holiday visit and you will be surprised! Holiday Project Volunteers always share that they leave feeling they have been blessed more than they have been a blessing! Of course the blessings are huge for everyone, including the nursing home staff, families and friends that actually are present and get to experience a visit. Many people visit on other holidays but have especially made Thanksgiving Day and/or Christmas Day visits a family holiday tradition! Holiday Project Visits are a great way to teach our children to care for the elderly and disabled.
All ages are invited to make a difference in the lives of the elderly and disabled. Go to www.holidayproject.info for details. My dream is for every nursing home in America to have volunteers visit nursing home residents/patients on holidays! Together we CAN make a difference!
I volunteered for a while for a nursing home in Fredericksburg, Virginia. I can't express enough the rewards you get from doing this. The looks, interests, smiles and love that you feel from spending time with this wonderful people. They just love to talk and share their stories of their lives with you. Some of them don't have family at all and some of them just don't have family close by. So they light up with you come to visit. They can tell you care. We made cookies, Santa came with us at Christmas, sang lots of Christmas music, and one time one of the volunteers brought her Therapy Dog. When I asked for volunteers it was amazing how people reached out.....The Therapy Dog came from Alexandria. It was one of the best things I've ever done.
The Holiday Project is a great way to share the Spirit of the Season! As Dr. Suess said, Christmas doesn't come from the store. Maybe, just maybe, the true meaning of Christmas is a little bit more.
My husband and I volunteered for many years for the Holiday Project when we lived in South Florida. It was very rewarding and I think we received more pleasure and gratification from it than the people we visited. Many residents of nursing homes never receive any visitors and they have no one to share their stories about the interesting lives they have led, which they shared with us. We enjoyed the hearing as much as they enjoyed the telling. We also enjoyed singing to the residents and we sometimes brought our pet dogs with us. We saw miracles as the residents, many of whom hadn't spoken or responded in a long time, came alive when they petted the dogs. The Holiday Project is a wonderful organization which makes a difference in the lives of so many people.
I have participated as a volunteer in The Holiday Project for many years. Delivering gifts to people in nursing homes, mental institutions and hospitals during the holiday season is a wonderful way of sharing love with those less fortunate and who are not often visited by friends or family. The process of sourcing gifts, wrapping them and then going on the visits is a labor of love and the volunteers get as much out of giving as do the residents. I encourage you to try it once to see for yourself what a community can do in the face of all the bad news we read and hear about on a daily basis.