Every Thursday, you can find New Orleanian Gail Rouen at Terraces on Tulane, our Mid-City housing facility for seniors. Rouen began volunteering earlier this year. “I hit it off with everyone,” she says enthusiastically. “Their stories melt my heart I love listening to them and hearing about their backgrounds.”
Rouen’s interest in volunteering was piqued at a Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans breakfast, which she attended with a group from her husband’s company. Soon, she was volunteering at the Terraces, which serves lower-income persons 62 and over. Her assignment: be a friendly helper, doing whatever residents need, be it light housekeeping or sharing a meal. She quickly discovered she and the residents enjoyed their time together.
The staff then asked if she would take on a special project, working with resident Ronald, known for creating art from everyday objects. His apartment was overfilled with his late mother’s belongings and other items. Rouen began helping him sort out what to keep.
“We have a wonderful relationship,” she says. “We trust each other and have wonderful conversations.” All the while, Ronald’s apartment is being cleared and organized, with Rouen taking things he no longer needs to charity.
“Gail is God-sent,” Ronald exclaims. “She was sent to me right on time.” Ronald, who has lived at the Terraces for five years, remembers how depressed he was over his mother’s death. “I know how to clean and organize, I just couldn’t do it. Gail helped me see things better. She’s become a good friend and is highly intelligent. I don’t have to Google, I just ask Gail.”
Rouen encourages others to volunteer. “The rewards are so great. You feel like you’re doing something worthwhile. You can work out a plan to give however much time you have.”
Sandra Smith, at age 63, attends many concerts and football games. She works as an usher at the Superdome, and her part-time occupation suits her lighthearted, helpful nature perfectly.
Sandra understands how important living independently is, so three days a week she travels to Volunteers of America’s senior adult living facility on Tulane Avenue to help “make life a little easier,” for those who she knows have already worked so hard.
Her call to action began when her mother, age 86, began needing help with fine motor skill tasks such as retrieving dishes or doing laundry. Sandra says that her mother has done a lot in her life and, in fact, still drives. But Sandra saw the opportunity to relieve her from small burdens so that her day ran more efficiently. Sandra’s belief is: since she can lend a helping hand, she will—so she turned to Volunteers of America to extend her reach. Now, she makes regular visits to residents’ apartments to share her smile and her time, assisting with things like ironing or simply wiping a table—small, thoughtful actions that make a big difference in the flow and enjoyment of a senior adult’s day.
Senior independent living often includes small aids like handrails or walkers; but, what is equally important is connection to others—the ability to help and be helped. So as February, which is National Senior Independence Month, continues remember the ones who have paved the way directly or indirectly for you, and do as Sandra does: lend a helping hand.
Are you inspired by Sandra’s story and want to get involved, too? Contact our Volunteer Coordinator, Logan Ebel at firstname.lastname@example.org or (504) 486-8699 to learn more about volunteering with us.
Hi, my name is Nicole. I would like to tell you a little about myself. Ten years ago, I told my mom I wanted to move out and get my own apartment. She wasn’t too happy about that. She was worried. But I was 26 years old and ready to move out on my own just like most girls my age would do. She finally agreed and that was one of the most exciting days of my life, to move into my own apartment! It’s so much fun!
I live in a nice apartment in Metairie with my dog Brownie. I have an office job at ACME which is an employment agency for people with disabilities. I do clerical work and odd jobs that need to be done. I love my job!
I receive about 46 hours of support a week from Volunteers of America. This support allows me to live independently. I spend most of that time with my Personal Care Assistant, Stephanie. She helps me with everyday tasks like grocery shopping, banking, cleaning and cooking. But I do a lot of the cooking because I love to cook and I’m a pretty good cook!
I have a beautiful mural on a wall in my apartment that I helped to paint myself. It is red poppies and an angel at the top. Poppies are my favorite flowers. I like the mural because I feel like the angel is always looking down at me.
My dream is to own my own home with a big back yard for Brownie. I would like to get another dog so Brownie can have someone to play with during the day. I would also like to get married someday. I think I am well on my way since I am a good cook, right?
My life is just like yours. I work and I have fun, I have family and lots of friends. With support from Volunteers of America’s Supportive Living Services, I get to do all of the things I enjoy. Thank you to everyone who makes these programs possible!