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Doing Good Together Newsletter )
Helping strengthen kids and communities through family volunteerism... January 2008
in this issue
  • Benefits of Sharing Time with an Elderly Friend
  • Suggestions for Planning a Visit
  • Inspiration
  • One Family's Story
  • News From DGT

  • Researchers have found that when older adults are lonely, their odds of being diagnosed with a heart condition increase dramatically. Conversely, additional emotional support and companionship are associated with a substantial decrease in heart problems. For elderly people without family and friends nearby, a friendly visit can help relieve isolation and improve well-being. Although many volunteers decide to visit a senior for altruistic reasons, they find their own lives are equally enriched. Here are more facts about how you can make this kind of difference for others - and for your own family.



    Jenny Friedman, Executive Director

    Benefits of Sharing Time with an Elderly Friend
    Friendly Visiting

    Make a Difference... Visiting older adults is a wonderful opportunity for intergenerational connections. Seniors get welcomed companionship, and children learn to respect the elderly and gain from their wisdom and experience. Plus, it's an ideal volunteer opportunity for families with children of all ages. You can arrange a one-time visit or begin an ongoing relationship. To learn more about friendly visiting, check out www.friendlyvisiting.org or www.littlebrothers.org. If you don't have a senior in mind, contact your local senior center or care facility and ask the volunteer coordinator about being matched with a senior to visit.

    Suggestions for Planning a Visit
    Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox

    Talk About It The respected Merrin Institute at DOROT ("dorot" means generations in Hebrew) developed a guide for parents who plan to visit an elderly person with their children. Here are their tips for a great visit:

  • Beforehand, discuss with your child why you choose to volunteer as a family and what you will be doing. Have your child prepare something to share, such as a drawing, a greeting card, or a book or favorite toy.
  • When you arrive, try these ways of getting the conversation going: present the card, toy or book you've brought; ask about the items you see in the home or room; share things about yourselves. In addition, show interest with eye contact, body language and visual cues (smiling, nodding, etc.).
  • Let your child's attention span determine the length of the visit, but also be sensitive to your older friend's energy level.
  • After the first visit, help your child write a thank-you note to the senior. If you become regular visitors, occasionally send postcards or photographs of your family.
  • Keep a family Memory Book as a record of your family's volunteer experiences.
  • Learn About It Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge by Mem Fox is the touching story of a young boy who lives next door to a home full of old folks. One reviewer admires its "non-patronizing focus" on the elderly.

    Photo: Wilfrid Gordon McDonald Partridge

    Inspiration

    "We've put more effort into helping folks reach old age than into helping them enjoy it."      

    - Frank A. Clark

    One Family's Story
    The Connolly family

    The Connolly family is a big and busy bunch. But one thing this family of 10 lacks are grandparents in close proximity to their LeSeur, Minn., home. That's one reason they spend one Sunday each month at the Edina (Minn.) Care and Rehabilitation Center run by the Volunteers of America. Jenneil and Andrew Connolly say they like the idea of instilling in their children (ages 2 months to 14 years) a sense of familiarity and comfort around elders.

    The family's church created this once-monthly Sunday volunteer opportunity. But while other families from the church occasionally help out, the Connollys are regular monthly participants. All of the children accompany residents from their rooms to a worship service, and back afterwards. The older kids also contribute their piano and violin talents to the service- inspiring some attendees to sing along. Meanwhile, 2- year-old Aspen and her mother sometimes slip out during the service to greet other residents.

    Photo: The Connolly family

    Read Full Story

    News From DGT

    If you live in the Twin Cities, you'll want to receive our free monthly list of family volunteer opportunities. We canvas the Twin Cities to compile a creative roster of fresh, timely family volunteer projects. Our list is ideal for families seeking one-time or ongoing projects. It includes five different family volunteer opportunities 10 months a year. Click here to sign up. Simply enter your email address in the box and hit send.

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