By Mia Summerson
The Tonawanda News
Tonawanda News — There are endless ways to give back to the community, but sometimes it’s easy to forget some of the people who need the most help are the ones who have already spent most of their lives building the community into what it is today.
ElderWood Senior Care at Wheatfield is home to many individuals who fall under that category.
The help of volunteers is crucial to maintaining a fun environment and giving seniors a chance to break from their everyday schedule as well as helping the staff keep up on day-to-day work.
Volunteers are needed for a wide variety of tasks ranging from gardening, playing bingo with residents and working in the gift shop, according to Christie Abel, the director of Volunteer Services at ElderWood.
“We’ re always in need of volunteers,” she said. “We accept them for anything; some people come in and do pet visits or to play bingo. Right now the biggest thing we need is people to run our gift shop on the weekends.”
Other types of volunteer work that can be done are pulling weeds outside, playing Wii bowling or helping with different functions and events at ElderWood. Students who need to fulfill community service hours for a class will receive credit for their time spent volunteering there.
Abel said that volunteering is just as beneficial to the volunteer as it is to the resident. She noted that the volunteers give the residents something to look forward to and someone else to talk to.
They’ll express interest in things and the volunteer might share that interest. As a result, the relationship can often blossom into a friendship.
“I like (volunteering here),” said Sally Glasgow of Wheatfield, who works at the gift shop on Tuesdays afternoons. “I decided to volunteer because I had retired. I like talking with the people that come in and also with the residents. It’s nice to try to brighten their day.”
Becoming a volunteer at Elderwood is pretty simple. There are really only two requirements: One that the volunteer be at least 14 years old and that they have certain vaccinations.
Otherwise, all they have to do is stop by and fill out an application. If the applicant meets the requirements and has no criminal record, they are given a brief interview and then get a tour of the facility. Abel described the ideal volunteer as someone with an upbeat attitude who is compassionate, caring and not just there because they may have to be.
“It’s a family life here,” Abel said. “(Volunteering) is an enriching experience and an opportunity to get to know the elderly in a different way. It changes the volunteer’s life as well as someone else’s life.”
“Everybody is just so nice,” said Glasgow, who was recently elected the volunteer “president” at a recent volunteer luncheon. “The administration is nice and I haven’t met anybody that I don’t like.”
Those interested in becoming a volunteer at Elderwood, call Abel at 215-8000 for more information.