Avrum Geller — Friendly Visiting
How long have you been a DOROT volunteer?
How did you get involved with DOROT?
I had volunteered with the Red Cross after 9/11 and wanted to continue volunteer work thereafter. I had learned about DOROT because the chorus in which I sing at (Jewish People’s Philharmonic Chorus) had used the DOROT auditorium for rehearsals about that time.
What type of volunteer activities do you do?
I have been a Friendly Visitor for a decade, and I escort seniors to cultural events. I also participate in Holiday Package Deliveries, the Thanksgiving Banquet, Cemetery Visits, and other programs.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
The most important way has been in the two deeply satisfying friendships I have made in the Friendly Visiting program. And in the many new friends I have made both at DOROT and in the community that DOROT serves. DOROT has provided me life lessons in how to approach my own aging more successfully. DOROT gets me out of myself and into a new dimension in my life.
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
I will always volunteer for DOROT because the DOROT volunteer experience is one of the most rewarding and satisfying roles of a lifetime.
Most memorable volunteer moment
The most memorable day in with my friend Jean was a trip to the New York Botanical Gardens on a day when huge azaleas were exploding in fluorescent colors. She was in a motorized wheelchair and we had taken a bus to the train at 125th Street; Metro-North accommodated with a brown rubberized bridge over the gap so she could roll onto the train. In our years of friendly visiting together, it was the most beautiful of all days, the bright blue sky almost overwhelmed by bursting bushes of fuschia, and reds, and orange; the lilacs were also at their peak. It was awesome.
That winter was the subway strike. Jean was in the hospital recovering from surgery. I remember riding my bike from home in the South Village to the hospital on the Upper East Side on a very cold day to visit on our regular weekly friendly visit day. I stopped in at a florist near the hospital and picked out a bunch of large multi-colored French tulips.
Jean felt humiliated because the hospital had removed her dentures before surgery, and then lost them. She was not at all a vain woman, but she felt so badly to be seen that way. The flowers cheered her up. In the days that she was recovering they twisted and transmuted into one shape more beautiful than the one before, surviving and keeping her transfixed for an entire week until she was released. When I next visited her back in Brown Gardens where she lived, she just could not stop talking about how extraordinary those flowers were, and how much they helped restore her.
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
As Paul McCartney put it, “And in the end the love you take is equal to the love you make.” Before volunteering I didn’t realize the depths to which helping an older person in life would be so deeply needed and appreciated, nor that the emotional reward to myself would be equally as profound.
Anything else you would like to share?
I would wish the world to work the way DOROT works.
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