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Life's most persistent and urgent question is, 'What are you doing for others?'
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Two weeks ago residents of Friendship Village celebrated Martin Luther King Day through special service projects including making sack lunches for The Barn Senior Center and for Cedar Village, a local subsidized senior living community in Schaumburg. Later that day, our residents made fleece dog blankets for donation to Second City Canine Rescue for senior dogs in foster care. This was our fourth annual observance of Martin Luther King Day, and while it’s a popular program it’s just a very small part of our volunteerism at Friendship Village. There is a strong culture at Friendship Village of giving back to the community.
We have in fact changed the volunteer paradigm in retirement communities. While it’s common, (and important) to have volunteers from the outside donating their time and expertise within a retirement community, it is as important to encourage volunteerism by residents outside of our campus.
In order to orchestrate this paradigm shift, we launched a program in which we identify local organizations serving individuals in need, and we provide volunteers to those groups, acting as teachers, ambassadors, counselors and more. To date, the volunteer initiative, called the Senior Outreach Coalition, has donated more than 10,000 hours of community service by 500 residents.
Some of the recipients of our volunteerism efforts have included:
We’re delighted that residents of Friendship Village are so driven by giving back. In addition to sharing their talents and expertise with others, the residents reap significant benefits as well. According to Senior Corps, our residents are part of a veritable army of more than 26 million seniors enjoying the strong sense of purpose and accomplishment that comes with volunteerism. Furthermore, volunteerism can help maintain health and cognitive function, and help alleviate stress, depression and chronic pain.
And we see for ourselves, immediately, that helping others, kindles happiness. That is one of the many reasons why Friendship Village residents are the happiest people around!