Last week and this week have been an incredible opportunity. For seniors at my school, we do a two week service immersion where we are assigned to an agency in the greater Milwaukee area with a friend and left to do service from 8-3 everyday Monday through Friday, instead of attending school.
At first, I was super apprehensive. My best friend and I were assigned to a nursing home, and our first day was an entire morning in orientation getting the lay of the land and touring the site. I am pretty familiar doing volunteering in Elderly care because I've done some service at similar sites in the past, but never so consistent and immersed. In the afternoon on the first day, we hung out with the participants in the "Adult Day Center", which was kind of a shock to actually experience elderly who were a little more cognitively challenged than I was used to.
I had trouble seeing the point of my service because I felt like the site didn't need me. On the second day, we folded laundry in the morning and spent more time hanging out with people that weren't able to hear us or communicate well with us, and to say the least, it was frustrating. However, it took a little persistence and determination to realize and remind myself that I am not doing service for myself, but because these people feel so youthful and loved and important when teenage girls are willing to spend time with them and have conversations with them even if it means I'm responding "I understand" and nodding to comments that I didn't quite catch.
Service is a beautiful thing. You give to others and at the time you might not love every minute of it, but you leave getting so much back than you ever could've given to the people you served without even realizing it. I only have through Friday to continue my service, but I will definitely miss the relationships I've made with some of the participants and residents in assisted living, too. The opportunity to get to know these people and to help the staff who rarely gets a break has been so rewarding for everyone, and I am so thankful that my school gives us this experience.