Morgan Shear — Next Generation, DOROT’s Teen Leadership Council, President
DOROT volunteer since: November 2011
How did you get involved with DOROT?
My grandparents have always been central to my life and my well–being. They have always been exemplary human beings. As I watched them advance in age, I realized that they were also representatives of a population that needed love and companionship above almost all else. I started making their “routines” a part of my own. And, as their world became smaller and their ability to stay connected to the outside world diminished, I planned and plotted ways to keep them enthusiastic and engaged in the often–frustrating passage of time. The results were powerful, as simple, mutually–enjoyable visits translated into fulfillment.
In rapid succession, my grandfather passed away, and my grandmother had a stroke. I knew that her level of understanding had declined, but I was also keenly aware that just being there to hold her hand kept her going. Truthfully, there was something there that kept me going, too. When I realized the impact that I had on my grandparents’ lives, I wanted to try and make a difference in other elder’s lives as well. I searched for an organization that would give me the opportunity to do so, and that is when I discovered DOROT. It really could not have been more of a perfect match for me.
What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?
No small gesture goes unnoticed at DOROT. As a teen volunteer, a part of DOROT’s Teen Internship Program, I make visits to seniors, deliver packages, make birthday cards and work at DOROT headquarters doing office work. In addition, I conduct interviews with DOROT seniors and am working on an exhibit with their unique stories. This is a part of a program I created and developed which I call “Living Histories.” I also work at fundraising, an example being a bake sale that I organized at my high school to benefit the Homelessness Prevention Program. Lastly, as president of Next Generation, DOROT’s Teen Leadership Council, I host events at DOROT with fellow Next Generation members, speak at orientations for new volunteers at Package Deliveries and work on recruiting future teen volunteers.
In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?
DOROT has given me a path through which I can spread awareness and joy. Without exaggeration, it has completely changed my life. It has not only enriched me and inspired me to spread awareness of the isolation and loneliness that many seniors experience, it has given me a new understanding of community service and a new, significant meaning to “giving.”
What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?
There aren’t enough hours in the day to make sure that these elders are smiling! I am motivated to continue volunteering at DOROT because I know that I am making a difference. I know that these elders need me; they need my company, my companionship and my support. The feeling of fulfillment and the smiles that linger on each of their faces as I leave their home after a visit ensures me that I am doing my job.
Most memorable volunteer moment?
If I had to choose one, perhaps my most memorable volunteer moment happened this year when I visited a man who was Holocaust survivor. We talked for almost two hours about his experiences growing up in Czechoslovakia, and how they have shaped him into the person he is today. Whether we were discussing philosophy or our fervent love for psychology, there was never a dull moment in our conversation.
What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?
That’s simple...you get back so much more than you give. You meet the most incredible people from all walks of life, and their stories often take you on journeys so vivid that they make you feel as though you were there. Their trials and tribulations run the whole spectrum of human existence.
In many ways, these elders are just like the younger generations, except they possess something that not all of us can say that we have: wisdom. By visiting with these truly remarkable people, I can confidently say that I have learned valuable lessons from their experiences, lessons that cannot be learned in school, but lessons that have helped shape me into the person that I am today. I have become wiser and it’s all thanks to the seniors at DOROT.
Anything else you would like to share?
I am so grateful that I was lucky enough to find an organization like DOROT that is so extraordinary. I have met so many fascinating, kind and inspiring people so far and have learned so many invaluable lessons from their experiences. Perhaps, too, I am enjoying becoming “an old soul.”
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