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Community Service and Volunteering

weather: cloudy
outside: 3°C
mood: pensive
I miss volunteering. I had great fun and I met some great people back when I was doing it regularly. But back then, I was also way over-extending myself. After a series of bad health problems, school and career had to come first... and even those things were no cake walk.

Now that my life is a bit steadier, I want to get back into some community service again. Nothing as huge as what I used to be involved in. Just a few hours a week. I'm looking to volunteer with seniors mainly.

I have a fairly selfish agenda and I'm working on coming to terms with it.

My parents are not going to stay young forever. I'm not going to stay young forever. I want to scout out elderly care facilities and see what's available, where they are in the city, what costs are involved, what activities they schedule, what kind of care they provide, what kind of meals they provide, qualifications of the staff, the types of people in the homes and just how it all works in general.

Sometimes I feel horrible about having my own agenda. But other times I think they shouldn't care why I was there as long as they had the extra help and I fulfill my time commitments as agreed.

I know it's completely unheard of for Chinese to put their parents in an elderly care facility, even part time, during the day. But when I'm faced with the question of whether or not I can take care of my parents in their old age, I'm forced to admit that I can't.

My parents are also not the dead-set traditional type. They do understand the world and the society they have chosen to bring me up in because they've lived it. They've raised two children and (sort of) been through the elderly care stuff with my Aunt Dorothy. I doubt they'd expect me to quit my job to take care of them 24x7, especially since I have the breadwinner salary.

I feel like the best I can do is know the lay of the land so to speak, be able to quickly find the best support and services when they need it, and know how far my money will get me. And if it turns out that these homes are no place for seniors, then I need to find that out soon too.

I'm looking through volunteer postings all over. I've bookmarked a few, written to a few for more info... we'll see how it goes.

[Update - Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 1230h]

I found one close to work, which is nearly perfect!!

This place wanted volunteers for all kinds of things: chaperones for bus outings, neighbourhood walks and they needed lots of people for Christmas things too, but those were all during the day and I have to work.

The one job I thought I could do was the Music Therapy Assistant. It's for six months minimum. I wrote to the contact person. I also called the listed number and it said that she's not in today. I'll have to wait until tomorrow to hear back, but I was thinking of taking a walk down there to see where it is and what the place looks like.

But this tells me that they have organized activities and they actually do stuff with the seniors. The fact that they care enough to post for volunteers also gives me confidence that they aren't just a holding pen. They also have a professionally designed website. Sure, it's a publicity thing and publicity things are always positive, but the fact that they spent the resources to get a nice site designed and organize the content into pages/sections tells you something.

The one thing that's impressive on the website is that they post the PDF file of their menus. It's on a five week rotation. It looks well thought out and looks like it's done in consultation with a dietitian. There are Chinese dishes on it too. Hell, I think I'd do well to follow their menu... =)

[Update - Wednesday, December 10, 2003 - 1245h]

I'm back =} It's a five minute walk from my office. It's a secure complex so I couldn't go in and talk to anyone. I pass by that place all the time and never realized what it was. I thought it was another residential building. It has a large gated courtyard. Outside of the gates is a public park-like area. And as I walked by, I could see into the large dining hall.

[Update - Friday, December 12, 2003 - 1520h]

The Volunteer Coordinator Lady e-mailed me back on Thursday saying she had just filled the Music Therapy Assistant position, but she'd talk to the program folks and let me know if they could use another assistant. I called her today just to follow up. She said that because of the Christmas holidays, their schedule was a bit wonky right now, but they are starting up two Music Therapy sessions a week in January. So, I should call back in January to find out what's happening.


Comments

( 15 comments — Leave a comment )
razorw
Dec. 10th, 2003 12:26 am (UTC)
Volunteering is really good. I used to volunteer quite a bit, but then school started getting in the way of a lot of things. I'll pick up something when things kinda settle down, but when I did do some volunteering, I did try some interesting things.

1. I joined a couple friends, who just started this new charity at the time, The Future Group, and they've just done wonders with it...

2. Trying something new... You never know what you might learn. ;o)

Hope you find what you're looking for.

As for the second part of your post... I think I feel the same way as you do... --Ray
bride
Dec. 10th, 2003 10:27 am (UTC)
school started getting in the way of a lot of things.

Yeah, that's exactly it.

I've volunteered for mostly organizations that did things for kids: the Y, Variety Club (special needs kids), the Vancouver Police (Bluey Day fundraiser for cancer). But, I agree, doing different things and experiencing different things is good.
razorw
Dec. 10th, 2003 12:05 pm (UTC)
Yeah ... that's cool. So you've lived in Vancouver and Toronto. Any chance you lived in Calgary ;o) --Ray
bride
Dec. 10th, 2003 12:11 pm (UTC)
Nope, never set foot in Toronto, I've been in Vancouver all my life. I passed by Calgary on a Canadian Rockies tour, but that's it... =)
razorw
Dec. 10th, 2003 01:24 pm (UTC)
Oh ok. Cool cool. =)
bride
Dec. 10th, 2003 10:31 am (UTC)
Even knowing that the story is coming third hand, even taking into account that it very likely isn't 100% true, that journalists distort and embellish all sorts of things, that's just incredibly sad and it's exactly what I'm afraid of inflicting on my parents.
rcantilles
Dec. 12th, 2003 08:25 am (UTC)
good lord this is horrifying, no matter how embellished it is.
bellajellybean
Dec. 10th, 2003 06:10 am (UTC)
I think that the only way to know what REALLY goes on at a place like that is to be on their staff or their volunteer list. They won't tell you what you really want to know on a tour. I think it's brilliant. Plus, you'll be doing something good and that will make you feel wonderful.
bride
Dec. 10th, 2003 10:37 am (UTC)
I hope so. I found one close to work, which is nearly perfect!! This place wanted volunteers for all kinds of things: chaperones for bus outings, neighbourhood walks and they needed lots of people for Christmas things too, but those were all during the day and I have to work.

The one I thought I could do was the Music Therapy Assistant. But this tells me that they have activities lined up and they actually do stuff.
jenny_rambles
Dec. 10th, 2003 06:24 am (UTC)
That is such an awesome idea....the only way you ever really know whats going on at a place is to work at it. And if they need the help and you're doing good things in the process of your research I say so much the better! :)
bride
Dec. 10th, 2003 10:38 am (UTC)
the only way you ever really know whats going on at a place is to work at it. And if they need the help and you're doing good things in the process of your research I say so much the better!

Yeah, that's what I keep telling myself too. Thanks =)
(Deleted comment)
bride
Dec. 10th, 2003 02:42 pm (UTC)
visitors' lot is always full.

That's a really good sign. =)
bdspitapit31
Dec. 11th, 2003 08:51 pm (UTC)
It's funny, I was going to suggest something about music therapy before I got to that part in your entry!!
Honestly, I've always had this opinion that music therapy is BS. I've learned more about it now, and it's still not something I'm into, but I understand a little more about it. It's really great and interesting that playing music from a person's past ("Their" music, music that they liked and listened to) can bring them out of a complete state of dementia for a short while. Improving the quality of life... is important. If you do it, I'll love hearing about it.
bride
Dec. 11th, 2003 10:38 pm (UTC)
I read a little about it from the Canadian and American Music Therapy Associations, but I don't know a whole lot about it. I imagine it's something like music classes, singing, "doing the actions", talking about the songs, recorder/guitar/band/orch., etc. for school age kids.

I heard back from the Volunteer Coordinator Lady. She said that they had filled the position, but she'll ask if they can take another volunteer. *cross fingers* =)
( 15 comments — Leave a comment )

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