Sean Hardy — Teen Internship Program

DOROT volunteer since: October 2009

Sean Hardy How did you get involved with DOROT?

I began volunteering at DOROT’s Lincoln House Outreach (LHO) program, which is a NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community). I had wanted to give back to my community and the local NORC provided the perfect opportunity.

What type of volunteer activities do you do?

During my time at LHO I did clerical work, coordinated events, participated in ballroom classes, art classes, and helped out at festivals. Once I started volunteering at DOROT’s main headquarters, I began, in addition to the office work, helping seniors with computer training, making birthday and regular visits, making birthday cards and delivering meals.

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

DOROT has been one of the most meaningful experiences in my life. I now appreciate the senior citizen community with greater clarity and understanding. I respect the “Generations Helping Generations” motto as one of great importance. We all need to help each other. We each have so much wisdom and so many wonderful experiences to share that, when combined, it becomes greater than the sum of its parts.

What motivates you to continue volunteering at DOROT?

DOROT makes my day! Working at DOROT always picks up my spirits, just by the sheer joy of spending time with the seniors. And just as I lift their spirits, they lift mine. I even feel accomplished after filing papers because I know I am doing a part to help this amazing organization continue its work. No matter how small the task, I know it is to better someone’s life and that feeling is akin to no other.

Most memorable volunteer moment?

Just one!? I’ll give you two.

The first is a visit I made to a woman approximately two years ago. She welcomed me and my fellow DOROT intern inside where tea, cookies, and chocolates awaited us. This woman was vibrant, extraordinarily insightful, and also interested in the theater — just like me and my partner! We talked and talked and talked, the conversation weaving itself naturally into new directions. I felt like I was at home.

My second memorable volunteer moment is another visit. This time it was to a man and a woman on the East Side. I had had a pretty awful day; to make matters worse it was raining and the bus was taking forever. As I stomped towards the home of the couple, I tried moodily to ameliorate my attitude. One look at this couple and I didn’t even need to pretend to be happy. They were so warm, loving, caring, and exciting. I sang a duet with the wife, and the husband taught me how to fold origami! We discussed what was going on in the world and in art. I remember leaving the house feeling radiant.

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

The experience of volunteering at DOROT will be life changing. You will meet so many individuals whose stories are simply bewitching. The amazing part is they’re just like us: They simply have more stories to share. I want other volunteers to know they should go into these visits with open ears and minds and that they should be prepared to learn more about not just the senior across from them, but about themselves as well. And also recognize you are doing an incredible act. You do not have to cure eighteen diseases, or donate all your possessions in an act of philanthropy for it to be considered a good thing. Visiting seniors in the community makes a whole world of difference. A simple act of saying hello can change their week. Simple acts of kindness are something we all, at our very core, need.

Anything else you would like to share?

This questionnaire makes me think of all my visits in a flash slideshow kind of way. So I just want to say thank you to all the seniors I’ve visited over the years. Thank you for showing me your sculptures, thank you for sharing about your time working on a TV set, thank you for the origami, thank you for appreciating the shawl, thank you for showing me your parapsychology work, thank you for letting me read your poetry, thank you for letting me work beside you, thank you for helping me to better understand this world we all live in.

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