Sandra Neidert, one of Neighbor to Neighbor in the Nenes’ staunchest volunteers, wrote a short article about why she volunteers to help elders in Indianhead/Lehigh. Her description is so powerful and thoughtful we think others will want to read it.
Some musings on my experience as a volunteer with Neighbor to Neighbor in the Nenes…
“Giving connects two people, the giver and the receiver, and this connection gives birth to a new sense of belonging.”― Deepak Chopra
Connections, relationships, community, and belonging. As a social worker my entire adult life, I spend a lot of time contemplating and studying these concepts; N3 provides me an opportunity to live them. N3 has also opened my eyes to a new concept – one I had not given much thought previously – that aging in place is a beautiful thing.
During my first year as a volunteer, I assisted the same elder with several tasks, including yard work and decluttering. While performing these tasks, we talked, laughed, told stories, and confided in each other. We connected. This past year, during the pandemic, I shop for her groceries each week and we visit when I drop them off on her front porch. We have a relationship that, I think, has enriched both of our lives. Relationships matter.
Our neighbors are eclectic, progressive, and caring, and I think Betsy (N3 founder) learned this quickly upon moving into our special community. She is brilliant for recognizing that our neighborhood has the capacity to support and sustain a program for our 200+ neighbors over the age of 75. This program, by neighbors and for neighbors, is an integral part of community and embraced by our neighborhood association. N3 has strengthened community ties and improved the quality of life for many – both the volunteers and the elders. Community matters.
Lastly, in my career, I have known families who yearn for a safe, stable home. As Maya Angelou said, “the ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned.” The same is surely true for our elders. With N3 assistance, our elders live in the comfort of their homes with a continued sense of belonging in their community. Aging in place is a beautiful thing.
In closing, I have a new friend, a strengthened community, and the utmost appreciation for aging in place.