Harriet Stollman — Office Volunteer
How long have you been a DOROT volunteer?
I have been volunteering every Friday for almost three years.
How did you get involved with DOROT?
I visited the Volunteer Referral Center seeking a placement with an agency serving seniors. Based upon my work experience and interest, they referred me to DOROT. Although I had worked in the aging field for many years, I had not heard of this organization but once I started to ask my colleagues and friends about DOROT, I heard nothing but raves. I was anxious to get started.
What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?
I work in the Community Services Department every Friday answering DOROT’s Resource Line. This involves answering phone calls, responding to emails and speaking to those that walk in. The telephone calls are extremely varied, mostly from seniors but a sizable numbers from family members and health professionals, doctors, nurses and social workers referring their clients or patients. Most callers are interested in learning about DOROT's programs and services. Other callers ask for referrals to other agencies and organizations when it is outside of our domain.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
In so many ways! My professional background was working with seniors so I feel deeply appreciative having the opportunity to continue to serve this population. I am constantly learning new information and skills so my mind is active and I feel vital and productive. People who retire need stimulation and volunteering at DOROT certainly keeps me on my toes. It has been a tremendous learning experience.
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
Two very important reasons - The first is my desire to help seniors and their families. It is heartwarming to hear a sincere thank you from a caller. Of course, calls come in from people who are angry, unhappy or frustrated with past experiences dealing with other agencies. Handling these calls may be trying but I do my best.
The other reason is the support and encouragement I receive from the Community Services staff when faced with questions I do know the answer to or when I just came off a difficult call and I need someone to talk to.
Most memorable volunteer moment:
I love telling this story because in one sense comical but it also shows the entire staff's commitment to serving seniors.
One Friday, I received a call from a woman living in upper Manhattan asking for kosher meals for that evening for her husband and herself. She explained that her husband was coming home from the hospital this afternoon and she herself had broken her pelvis so it was extremely difficult for her to cook a meal. DOROT has emergency meal packages on hand, but deliveries are not made on Fridays. After explaining the dire circumstances to the Director of the Kosher Meal for the Homebound, she informed me that she must find a staff person who was willing to hand deliver the food package. Twenty minutes later, the Director notified me that the delivery can be made. I called the senior back with the good news only to be told: "Thank you but we decided to order in". All in a day's work but clearly the entire staff is always ready to go the extra mile.
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
Without question, it is working alongside the wonderful staff. When I started at DOROT, I felt overwhelmed by the amount of information I needed to be able to carry out my assignment. They allowed me to work at my own pace and gave me a great deal of encouragement and gradually my confidence grew. Even now, the staff is always available to answer my questions and offer support when I just finished a difficult call. They welcome me when I arrive, and graciously thank me when my shift is over. They, in fact, "Make My Day".
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