Gabriel Richman — Teen Internship Program
DOROT volunteer since: Almost 3 years. I am now a senior in high school and have been volunteering at DOROT since my sophomore year.
How did you get involved with DOROT?
I got started because my school required that I fulfill fifty hours of community service. After I had met the fifty hour requirement, I continued volunteering because I really enjoyed it. I have volunteered ever since, and also volunteered over the summer before senior year.
What type of volunteer activities do you do?
Until this year, I would go to a different senior’s home every week, either for a friendly visit (just chatting with the senior), or a computer visit (helping the senior set up email or computers). I really enjoy the computer visits because we can give seniors the tools to connect with people even after we go home. This year I have been visiting a man in an assisted living facility and we play backgammon every week.
I am also on the Next Generation, DOROT's Teen Leadership Board, which is interesting because I get to see both sides of the volunteer process—planning and implementing.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
DOROT has impacted my life by making me see aging in a very different light. Before I started volunteering at DOROT, the only real contact I had with the elderly was with my grandparents, who are all in pretty good shape, and none of them live in Manhattan.
Volunteering at DOROT has made me see the complicated issues facing seniors, especially immobile ones living in Manhattan. Now I understand how much of a problem isolation is, and that poverty is very prevalent among the city's senior population. Computer visits have made me realize what an asset technology can be in fighting isolation, and also what a challenge it can be to integrate it into the seniors’ lives.
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
What motivates me to continue volunteering at DOROT is the idea that I can make a difference just by sacrificing some of my time. It is always very heartwarming to see the seniors smile when they invite visitors in. My Rabbi always tells the congregation that, since we don’t do sacrifices anymore, we should each make our sacrifice out of our own allotment of time. That is why I continue volunteering for DOROT.
Most memorable volunteer moment?
My most memorable volunteer experience was on one of my first visits. It was a computer visit, so the other volunteer and I sat down expecting to help the senior set up email, or something else. She asked us to help her find a song that she used to work out to with her friends. “You’ve probably never heard of it.” she said, “It’s called ‘YMCA.’”
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
For other volunteers at DOROT, I would tell them that they should not miss the opportunity to try and learn something while they are on visits. Seniors have a lot of life experience, and it is easy to pick up a thing or two. I know that at the very least I have become a much better backgammon player thanks to volunteering at DOROT.
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