Caring for Seniors and Building Relationships
For the fifth time in fifteen months, volunteers from Stonebridge Community Church gathered to assist the residents at Ashlee Manor Senior Living in Simi Valley, last Saturday morning. Several residents were asked what it meant to have church volunteers serve them in an ongoing relationship. Many express their gratitude to the volunteers in person, but this time we captured a few comments ranging from a simple, “It’s great!” from Ismel, a resident of five years, to, “I appreciate it so much. The Lord takes good care of me through church volunteers,” from a thirteen year resident named Sally.
It is a well-known fact that as people age, they can no longer take for granted what they used to be able to do. Marian has been living at Ashlee Manor for twenty years and she said, “It means a lot. I can’t get around, can’t do windows.” And Sheila, a fourteen year resident agrees, “I am grateful because there are so many things I can’t do anymore. It means a lot to know the church volunteers will do anything I ask. They’re wonderful and I appreciate them.”
Janie, an eight year resident, also looks at the practical side. “It’s a blessing. I can’t get up on a stool to clean my ceiling fan or windows anymore because of spinal degeneration and blood pressure issues.” Jojo also put a practical spin on her appreciation. “It’s unreal how good people are. How helpful they are by doing extra things without my asking. That’s so kind.”
Gwyla has lived at the senior apartments for thirteen years, and has gone through many tough life transitions. She doesn’t take for granted the extra help the volunteers offer. “I’m 79 years old and can’t get everything done. Praise the Lord that you come.”
Other residents see past the practical to the spiritual, perhaps viewing the volunteers as being the arms and legs of Jesus in their community. Donna, who has only been at Ashlee Manor for one year, already gets it and put her thoughts succinctly. “Christ’s work in action. Help others. Christian attitude. I feel fortunate to live in a place served by Stonebridge.” With Rena, a resident for five years adding, “I love the people coming from the church. They are gracious, kind and respectful, even the young folks. I’m amazed. I feel their joy in serving me.” Don, a twelve year resident put it beautifully. “They’re doing the work for the Lord. They do it to love their neighbors, like the Bible says.”
One resident named Karen used her appreciation for the volunteers to respond through action. She had her hair cut by one of the cosmetology students and donated the long tresses to Locks of Love in honor of her sister’s battle with cancer. I asked her about the gift and she said, “—because of Jesus. I did it for Jesus. It feels wonderful.” She will also benefit because she only has the use of one hand because of Cerebral Palsy, and the short haircut will make her hair so much easier to care for.
Perhaps if we asked any one of the StoneBridge volunteers donating their time and energy for the seniors that morning the same question, they might reply in a similar fashion, “I do it for Jesus.”
By: Janet Maarschalk