Spreading love at a retirement home
For Shelly, Foresters Financial™️ has been a way of life for almost as long as she can remember. A member since she was just a kid back in 1974, her parents were on the first charter for their court, and over the years Shelly has been inspired to participate in all kinds of events and volunteer opportunities through Foresters. In February 2017 Shelly, who is now a Regional Councillor, organized a charitable event through the Foresters Community Grants program.
The idea came to Shelly after a conversation with a Foresters employee at the last Councilor Orientation Meeting. Knowing that many seniors in nursing homes often don’t have visitors, and thinking about her own two grandmas who lived in nursing homes, she was inspired to create her Foresters Valentines Gift of Love to the Elderly event. Held at the Candlelight Lodge in Columbia, Missouri, the event was all about treating the seniors – every single resident – to a special gift bag, as well as refreshments in the cafeteria.
Shelly and her team of volunteers packed 91 tote bags full of goodies including shampoo, conditioner, lotion, lip balm, socks, combs, brushes, pens, notebooks, snacks and other items the seniors would find useful.
And were the staff and residents grateful for these lovingly packed bags? As Shelly said, “When I called Candlelight Lodge to ask if they were interested in us hosting the event there, the activities person was just so excited to have our help that I didn’t need to call anywhere else!” On the day of the event, the staff peeked at the bags as Shelly and her team were filling and said how happy they were going to make the residents, and how needed the items were.
While the event was special from start to finish, one moment stood out just a little bit more than the others for Shelly. “As my 14-year-old granddaughter, AnnaBelle, and a nurse went into the first room,” Shelly explained, “the nurse told my granddaughter, ‘Now this man won’t talk – he doesn’t communicate.’ When they came out AnnaBelle was in tears. We asked what was wrong and she said, ‘Nothing, he put his arms out and gave me a hug.’ That hug had a lot of impact on her and now she wants to do more volunteering there this summer if possible.”
When asked what she would say to other Foresters members considering organizing a similar event, Shelly said, “People tend to forget about the elderly. There are so many that do not have family that come to help them or see them every day, or they don’t have money to buy the things the nursing home doesn’t supply like a simple tube of lip balm. We had volunteers of all ages – from a teenager to people in their 70s. Everyone was able to do something and all of us left feeling like we had put smiles on a lot of faces that don’t get to smile every day.”
If you would like to follow Shelly’s lead and become more involved with community events and volunteerism through Foresters Community Grants, visit MyForesters.com. From checklists to activity guides, you’ll find everything you need to assist you in organizing your own community volunteer activity.
As Shelly says, “To know that the organization that you so believe in made it all possible with their funds makes your heart know that life is good.”
415246C CAN/US (07/17)