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Seniors Enriching Lives Through Service

Caitlin Burm
By Caitlin BurmMarch 20, 2015

We recently spoke with Holiday Retirement about their award-winning volunteer program: “Seniors Serving Seniors and Society.” Tess Aiello, Holiday Retirement’s Resident Enrichment Manager, elaborated on the program and shared with us how it impacts Holiday Senior Living residents.

Seniors Serving Seniors

When Holiday Retirement was originally founded in 1971, it strived to create a lifestyle for seniors that was more enriching and meaningful than senior living communities had ever been. An example of that ongoing dedication is Holiday’s “Senior Serving Seniors and Society” program, which provides seniors with opportunities to enrich the lives of others and enhance the purpose and passion in their own lives through volunteering.

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The program, developed in 2005, focuses on monthly community events where senior living communities can connect with local chapters of national organization to serve society. Organizations include:

  • National Police Week
  • ASPCA
  • Toys for Tots
  • Red Cross
  • Habitat for Humanity
  • CLICK for Babies
  • Local food banks

The participation of so many organizations gives senior residents the opportunity to identify and volunteer for an event within their interests.

The Impact of Senior Service

The Seniors Serving Seniors program not only enriches the lives of others, but also impacts the seniors who volunteer themselves.

Aiello shares a story about a resident who had lost her spouse of more than 60 years, and who wasn’t attending meals or activities because she didn’t want to start crying in front of other residents. After hearing of this, Holiday’s “Sunshine Committee” showed up at the resident’s apartment with her favorite book and cocoa, telling her they missed her and hoped to visit with her. She invited the Sunshine Committee in, and during the visit, one of the volunteers explained that she had also lost her spouse and could be a shoulder to cry on. Since then, the residents have been best friends and sit with each other during meals and attend activities together.

Aiello encourages seniors who are interested in the program to identify a volunteer opportunity of interest before participating in the program.

She says: “In the time it takes to watch a television show… you could be knitting caps for babies, delivering hot meals to those in need, writing letters to soldiers overseas, or visiting with a local senior who may have experienced loss.” Aiello continues: “Not only is volunteering a great thing to do, but studies show that volunteering seniors live a more fulfilled life  — emotionally, socially and physically.” She adds: “Whatever you do in life, enjoy it to the fullest.”

About the Author:

Tess Aiello joined Holiday Retirement in August 2006. Prior to Holiday, Tess was the assistant director of a local preschool department consisting of over 400 children, 25 paid staff and 120 volunteers. Tess brings her skills of writing and implementing curriculum, communication, project management, program development and the love of people to resident enrichment at Holiday.

Do you or a loved one volunteer with seniors? What has your experience been like? Share your story with us in the comments below.

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Caitlin Burm
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Caitlin Burm
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