Katherine Lehr - Friendly Visiting
How long have you been a DOROT volunteer?
I have been a DOROT volunteer since April, 2014.
How did you get involved with DOROT?
I had recently moved to New York City from Washington, D.C., and was actively looking for a regular volunteer opportunity. My colleague and friend, Lauren Englander, had mentioned her involvement with DOROT. Its mission really resonated with me: one of my life’s greatest blessings has been forging strong bonds with all four of my grandparents well into my adulthood. My maternal grandmother, now 98 and the only grandparent still living, remains in the D.C. area. During my eight years there, I spent a significant amount of time with her each week and offered my help as her condition began to require greater assistance.
What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?
I am a Friendly Visitor, very lucky to be paired with Helen. The first At-Your-Service opportunity I requested involved reading The New York Times and The New Yorker to Helen. She asked me to come back the following Sunday. Then the next. And then the following one. I quickly evolved into a Friendly Visitor, cementing our weekly visits.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
Helen is a big reason why I consider New York my home. She is a constant source of inspiration, and I have so enjoyed learning about her life during our regular visits and calls. Helen possesses a brilliant mind and is a sage advice giver. My career keeps me very busy, but my involvement with the DOROT volunteer program confirms that you can and should always make time for others. It’s one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had in my life.
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
As I noted above, providing intergenerational connections to the elderly is a cause very dear to my heart. I want to help alleviate social and intellectual isolation, both of which can be dispiriting. Helen continues to consume an impressive amount of information related to current events. I am privileged to act as her sounding board, researcher, debate partner, and student.
Most memorable volunteer moment:
My conversations with Helen have always focused largely on politics. She was the first person I called on November 9, 2016, and she continues to be my first call when anything major occurs (which seems to be almost daily these days!). Helen offers me great comfort, and I like to think I do the same for her. The encouraging part is, we always find a way to laugh.
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
You can make such a difference in an elderly person’s life by carving out time for a walk, fun outing, game of chess, assistance with paperwork, or just a friendly chat. And they can make such a difference in your life! I’ve gained a lifelong friend and for that I am forever grateful.
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