In the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving, we here at Medical Guardian bought and delivered 14 turkeys, 14 pies, 6 bags of stuffing, 24 bags of vegetables, 50 pairs of socks and 40 bottles of lotion and powder to three different organizations in the Philadelphia area. All three organizations serve the elderly in different ways. The outcome, however, is the same: these organizations exist to make the lives of senior citizens better.
The first organization, Aid for Friends, provides home-cooked meals to over 2000 seniors in the five-county Philadelphia area, free of charge. Their mission is to "alleviate the hunger and loneliness of isolated homebound individuals." They thrive on donations and when we heard that they were short on food supply this year we offered to help.
The second organization, Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly, is "committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly" and does so without government funding. "All programs are funded solely through the generosity and compassion of volunteers, private donors, corporations, and foundations." Medical Guardian was honored to be a corporate donor this year and we were able to provide socks, lotions, and baby powder for care packages that go out to low-income homebound seniors on Thanksgiving day.
The third organization, Old Pine Street Church's Saturday For Seniors Program, has provided a warm home-cooked meal to seniors every Saturday since 1978. Having noticed that most programs that catered to seniors were only open Monday through Friday, the founders decided to start the Saturdays for Seniors program so that seniors could have a warm place to go on the weekends -- and where they could also find good food, friendship, and community. When I told Linda Mill, the Director of the Saturday for Seniors Program, that we were interested in donating food, she was thrilled and invited our team to volunteer for the special Thanksgiving meal.
So on Saturday, November 23rd, 10 members of the Medical Guardian staff helped to prepare, cook, and serve a Thanksgiving meal to a group of roughly 85 seniors from all over the city of Philadelphia. Many of the seniors live alone and come to the program every week for more than just a free lunch; they come for the company. Many of them arrive hours before the meal is actually served so that they can catch up with friends, play board games, and laugh.
In the process of helping these organizations, however, a strange thing happened: they made our lives better too.
"Some of my most favorite memories of my late Gramps are of the crazy stories he would tell of his younger years -- especially of the time he spent in the Navy during WWII. Having the opportunity to sit down and listen to stories so similar to his for a few hours not only made all of the memories come flooding back, but also personally made me feel really great about giving back to those who have given so much to help our generation" Paige Coho, Medical Guardian Affiliate Marketing Coordinator
"Seeing how gracious the seniors were towards us, that we were there volunteering, really made it feel worth it. It's difficult to realize what kind of impact you can have through random acts of kindness, until you've done it and can recognize it in the smiles you receive." Gino Finocchiaro, Medical Guardian Creative Marketing Manager
"It was wonderful preparing food and serving the seniors at Old Pine Community Center and seeing the joy that it brought them. My favorite part was hearing the amazing stories they shared at the dinner table, I'll never forget this experience!" Matt Guerrieri, Medical Guardian Digital Marketing Manager
"The seniors are so thankful for the little things in life -- it's so nice just to take some time out to help and make them feel special." Payal Patel, Medical Guardian Marketing Intern
For me, this volunteer experience was a reminder that while life moves pretty quickly for all of us, it's important to take time out of our routine to help others. Our holiday culture has become so inundated with things. It's gotten so out of hand this year that many stores were open on Thanksgiving Day, preventing retail employees from being with their families. Having had the chance to spend the day with 85 amazing senior citizens last weekend made me realize that life goes by pretty quickly, and in the end, it won't be the things that we've acquired that have made us happiest, it will be the memories that we've made with the people we hold dearest.
This holiday season, Medical Guardian will continue to give back to the senior community and to the organizations that support them and we'd love to challenge you to do the same. Whether you have a regular holiday volunteer routine, or if you are venturing into volunteer work for the first time, we'd love to hear about what that experience has meant to you. Leave a comment below or reach out to us directly on Twitter @MedicalGuardian to let us know about how your experience might have made your life better.
Is there any better reason to give thanks this holiday season?
Follow Hilary Young on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@HYoungCreative