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DOROT Westchester


Sandy Warshaw - Wellness Program

How long have you been a DOROT volunteer?

8 years.

How did you get involved with DOROT?

I knew, Judy Ribnick, the Director of Community Services, from my earlier work with a program for seniors. She asked me to facilitate a support group at Lincoln House Outreach, a social service program funded and supervised by DOROT.

About two years later, I went to DOROT to speak to a social worker about Alzheimer’s — a major concern of my group. While there, Karen Fuller, Director of Health and Nutritional Services, stopped by. In the course of conversation, she asked if I would be interested in leading a discussion group on Tuesday mornings.

We named the group “Roses and Thorns,” because that is how each meeting starts. What were the roses and thorns in your life since we met last? It is a support group dealing with the roses and thorns of growing older, including bereavement, loss of memory, loss of mobility and, of course, the “ustas:” I “usta” be able to climb on a ladder, walk without a cane, a walker, and more.

What type of volunteer activities do you do at DOROT?

I am also a “recipient,” but give much of myself in almost all occasions. I am visited by teenage interns every week or every other week. We learn from each other and they learn how I got where I am — age 84. They learn that I have been “down” but gotten up again - they say that is the most valuable lesson.

I receive DOROT holiday packages and, most importantly the people who deliver them. Family friendships have developed from these visits.

During the past few summers I have participated in intergenerational activities. They are enriching to me as well as to the summer interns.

I have also helped facilitated the Current Events Café when needed.

In what ways has your DOROT volunteer experience impacted your life?

My experiences with DOROT enrich my life and make me feel very useful —especially my variety of visits with high school students. Some of us have done interesting projects together — and I serve as a sounding board for pre-college interviews. Especially during the cold winter months it is nice to have the teens come to me - not go out, even to DOROT.

All DOROT staff, at all levels, are friendly and not condescending. In my work with Roses and Thorns, I have had much interaction with Karen Fuller. She listens and is responsive — whether about Roses and Thorns or other programs. I have been encouraged by all staff, including Adult Volunteer Services staff to do what I do, try new things, give feedback which is taken seriously.

What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?

I am motivated to continue volunteer at DOROT by the satisfaction I receive from all my DOROT activities most of which enhance my feelings of self-worth.

Most memorable volunteer moment:

When I returned from the White House Conference on Aging in 2015, one of the members of Roses and Thorns interviewed me and made a tape of the experience. We had great support from the Volunteer Service staff and made a video — a great keep sake.

One of my teen visitors was a film making student in high school. She made a film of the two of us sharing life experience, showing the things we had learned from each other. Her film was nominated for an award by her film making program.

I am still in touch with all of my teen visitors - through their college years.

What would you want other volunteers to know about volunteering at DOROT?

Volunteering at DOROT is a "feel good" experience. In all that I do, I get as much as I give. This is sometimes as true of Roses and Thorns as it is of my work with teens and those who come to my home for Shabbat dinner or to deliver packages. I have learned about challenges of aging that I had not yet faced; learned to ask for help as I helped others gain that skill. Especially in the winter I get up and get out, when the urge is to stay under the covers. I do it because of the group. We learn from each other and depend on each other. Volunteering at DOROT makes me feel worthwhile and whole.

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