One definition of “volunteer” is: “to work for an organization without being paid.”
Sounds cheery. Everyone one of us just strives to not be compensated for our work, right? See here is where many of us get stuck. It’s not the word volunteer that throws us; it’s that unspoken meaning of the word “paid” in the definition. We hear payment, we think money. Don’t get me wrong, money is obviously a valuable compensation! But it is not the only compensation.
I am not going to attempt to delve into an analysis of what being a volunteer can mean to one’s psyche. I’m not qualified. But I do want to share what I witnessed up close this past week.
On March 9th, 14 volunteers from the Apple stores Natick, Solomon Pond and Holyoke came to the Adult Day Health and ASPiRE! Worcester programs for four hours of volunteering in our programs, working and playing and laughing and getting to know the individuals in various programs.
It was awesome! Everyone involved had a blast! Everywhere I looked I saw smiling, laughing, and happy interactions for both the individuals we serve AND the volunteers. I personally had a fantastic time in a music class (thank you Sarah!) where people with a variety of musical talents (or lack thereof on my part) were able to hear and feel the music and participate in a variety of ways.
Assistive technology? Well, yes, I did see AT at work in several areas. But nothing, and I mean nothing, can substitute for the human interaction that puts those smiles on ALL of our faces, whether AT was in use or not. Payment? I think it’s safe to say everyone came away with their own unique form of payment.
Cheers to the APPLE volunteers, SHF staff and all involved!
“Where technology meets community.”
Warmest regards and heartfelt thanks to ALL involved!
“Research has shown that people who volunteer often live longer.” Allen Klein