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Bringing Out The Best

by Tina Podboy Laughner, Volunteer & Outreach Manager

We are going on three months now since our world has changed. From what I can tell by making client calls, tracking volunteer hours, interacting with Senior Services staff and volunteers and even engaging on social networks, this tragic virus has brought out the best in many people! Senior Services clients are so appreciative of their Meals on Wheels and the weekly staff calls to see how they are doing. Most appear to be doing well even to the point of joking on the phone! The clients I have called even ask how I am doing through all of this – so even in their need, they have asked about my well-being.

Senior Services Meals on Wheels volunteers started back up delivering meals at the end of April. They were “chomping at the bit” to get back at it, and, again, we did not need to call up the group of new volunteers oriented at the beginning of this situation. Those new volunteers stepped up right from the get-go, ready to help in any way. Rest assured, we will keep in contact with them – the Meals on Wheels program, in “normal” times, always has a need for drivers.

I have learned many things through this situation – how to work from home (not very efficiently, I’m afraid), how to Zoom (I’m a little better at this), and how to appreciate the connection that I have with my co-workers and Senior Services volunteers. I never realized how much of my social life centers around work until I didn’t have it. I miss visiting staff in their offices, and I miss seeing volunteers in the halls to shout out, “Thanks for driving!” or, “Nice to see you today!” I can’t do that now so I have tried to send emails to our volunteers. What I have realized, though, is that I was not prepared for this situation as I do not have email addresses for many of the volunteers. As this goes to press, I have sent out at least two emails to our volunteers. IF you have not received these emails, PLEASE call or email me so I can get you added to our list: 633-3741 or tpodboy-laughner@mccoa.org.
Recently I watched an online conversation with Ken Dychtwald, an aging expert, presented by the American Society on Aging. Dychtwald liked to think of this time not as a quarantine but rather as “cocooning” – meaning we could come out of it better than we were before. I have seen so many positive things come out of this – neighbors looking out for neighbors, people making truckloads of masks for perfect strangers, and our Senior Service volunteers willing to risk their own health to help our clients. Another point that Dychtwald made was that he hoped his legacy was not that he wrote seventeen books in his lifetime but rather that he was a good husband, a good father and a good friend – that love and family were much more important.

Volunteers, I thank you again for sticking by us in these times – I can’t wait until I can tell you that again… in person!

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