Laura Hahn — Friendly Visitor
DOROT volunteer since: August 2009
How did you get involved with DOROT?
DOROT and I actually met online! I was looking for ways to volunteer in the city, and I came across a post on Idealist for DOROT’s Friendly Visiting program. I’ve always been close with my grandparents, and in 2009, my Pop Pop was living on his own in a small town in Pennsylvania. He would have loved a Friendly Visitor. I applied immediately.
What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?
I’ve been visiting Arthur (pictured here) once a week for over three years. We see shows, we go on walks, we taste cider at the farmer’s market near his apartment. It’s the best! I also serve on DOROT’s Young Professionals Leadership Circle. We develop intergenerational programs for seniors and volunteers in their 20s and 30s. This year, we are piloting a dinner party program called “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner,” and a dance event with Ballet Hispanico.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
Gosh, where to start? I’m so thankful DOROT and I found each other. I knew I wanted to give back to the community and I knew I loved my grandparents, but I never put two–and–two together—that I could use that love and passion to help a population in need—until I got involved with this organization. Every time I leave Arthur’s apartment, I feel better than when I walked in, and I know it brightens his world, too. I always say we both volunteer. But maybe I should rephrase that. Neither of us “volunteer” anymore. We’re friends.
My experience with DOROT also inspired me to start a blog called Arthur & Bernie. (Bernie was my Pop Pop. He passed away in September.) I write about my time spent with them, and the many, many ways it’s touched my life, big and small. When I started the blog in the fall of 2010, I hoped it might strike a chord with others, and I think it has. I now write about intergenerational friendship for AARP, too.
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
I can’t imagine ever quitting! I’m motivated by the happiness it brings. When we put on Young Professionals events, it’s a rush to see all of the smiling faces and know that our dedication and hard work paid off. As for my visits with Arthur, like I said, they don’t feel like volunteering anymore, which really goes to show how deep our connection has become.
Most memorable volunteer moment:
I can’t pick! But around this time every year, I think of my StoryCorps interview with Arthur. I wrote about it on Arthur & Bernie. DOROT wanted to collect the stories of Friendly Visiting pairs, so it opened its doors to StoryCorps, a nonprofit that records oral histories and stores them in the Library of Congress. I remember Arthur and I sitting in front of microphones, across the table from one another, and kind of formalizing our weekly talks. It was a special day. Afterwards, in honor of Chanukah, we ate latkes around the corner at Barney Greengrass. Yum!
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
You will be changing lives—your own included. And there are really so many ways to get involved. You can commit an hour a week and then some, like I do, or you can come to one event a year. (If you’re in your 20s or 30s, make it a Young Professionals event! We’re a fun bunch, I promise.) In a city that moves so fast, it’s important to slow down once in a while, and consider your priorities. There’s nothing more important than helping people who need it. You’ll be so glad you did!
Anything else you would like to share?
Thanks for this opportunity!
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