The Visiting Nurse Association of Greater St. Louis (VNA) provides volunteers in the community the opportunity to build meaningful relationships with lonely seniors in need of friends through Visit-A-Bit. Lots of students, adults and seniors have participated in the Visit-A-Bit volunteer program, and all have had their lives touched in some way. Here are a few of the stories we’ve received from volunteers about how they were positively impacted.
Lily was a senior pre-med student at Washington University looking for a way to get involved in a volunteer program after living in St. Louis for a few years. She heard from a friend that Visit-A-Bit might be a good fit considering her father was a doctor and she had developed an interest in senior care. She was paired with a senior who loved art as much as she did, and the two spent many of their visits painting together and talking about their lives, building trust and friendship.
“I really enjoy the fact I’m getting outside of my college bubble. Everyone is focused on education, and we all have similar tracks, so it was important to get outside of that bubble and start meeting people that I never thought I would. [My senior] and I talk for an hour every week, and by doing that, we have really deep conversations about our life, where we came from and who we are. It’s a deep connection I would not have had if I hadn’t joined Visit-A-Bit. The connection you make is really unique.”
Mary is a retired Kirkwood, MO native with a background in helping people with developmental disabilities find jobs. In retirement, she wanted to maintain her Christian commitment to service. She discovered Visit-A-Bit through her church, where she was in charge of the Eucharistic Ministers, and she saw it as a good opportunity for church members to get involved in a volunteer program that helped form meaningful relationships.
Mary was paired with a couple in their eighties and quickly learned that they’d impact her life as much as she’d impact theirs. While she helped the couple manage things around their home and navigate healthcare, they taught her valuable life lessons through sharing their wisdom.
“[Visit-A-Bit] keeps me going. There are people like me who are older and sitting at home, and it’s so terrible to just sit at home, so go and get the reward of doing something for somebody else… These seniors have to know that they are worth something, that they do have value, and when you show somebody that, it certainly comes back to you.”
Dave worked as a registered nurse for more than 40 years, and after he retired, he wanted to find a way to contribute to his community as he had before. His wife heard about the Visit-A-Bit volunteer program on the radio, and after telling Dave about it, he decided to join.
He was paired with a senior in Festus, MO who wanted to meet at the local Burger King. Eventually, they began visiting other locations as Dave wanted to help his senior get out into the world a little more. Dave is thankful for the friendship he developed and says they make each other come out of their comfort zones a little bit, the mark of a relationship built on trust.
“The Visit-A-Bit program gives people the chance to bring some happiness, enjoyment and interaction back into their lives. People are what makes the world go around, and social interaction is essential. This can give them the confidence and willingness to re-establish bonds and be worthwhile and meaningful to other people as well as themselves.”
Interested in becoming a volunteer? Visit the Visit-A-Bit website for more information.