Hi, I’m Loris! I’ve been an INC Giving volunteer since the creation of the project back in 2011. I’ve coordinated many volunteer opportunities in my community– like showing appreciation to local school teachers; spending an afternoon at senior homes providing entertainment; and holding a literacy night for the kids in our area—we created an environment where we brought books to life and provided them fun ways of reading.
Over the past 10 years, the INC Giving Project has led us in helping and serving our own communities. They have given us ideas and tools to guide and encourage us to truly help those in need. Out of all the times I and other INC Giving volunteers helped in our community, the one act of kindness that I still reflect on is when we helped the elderly who were independent with their landscaping. It may seem like a small and regular chore to us, but that’s because we’re still able to move around freely and not get as tired. For them, mowing the lawn or trimming the surrounding foliage is a tiring task.
When the opportunity came up to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity-Inland Valley and help the city of Menifee, under the Menifee Better Together event to help take care of the elderly there, I signed up right away. Of course, I had no idea what we were really going to do, but helping our elderly is something we’ve been taught at a young age. So why not give up one Saturday afternoon in helping the elderly in their homes?
The day came, and I was ready with my INC Giving shirt. A twenty-minute drive from Temecula, I found myself with other volunteers from all over the city! I was nervous but hey! We’re all here to help. As I smiled my way to the table where we were instructed to pick a house for our organization to take care of for the day, I met people of all ages. It was so reassuring to see the eagerness they had to help the seniors in our area. It dawned on me that kindness really does bring people together.
The event started with instructions of what we were supposed to do and not to do. After some opening remarks, we were told we were free to start heading over to the house we assigned ourselves to. As we arrived, I was in shock at how overgrown everything was. The houses in the area mostly had rocks and such for desert weather, while others still had traditional landscaping.
We were informed this particular house we volunteered for had many violations from the city because of how overgrown everything became. It was a safety issue for the residents in the area. The trees had grown long enough to cover the utility box near the sidewalk. The bushes that lined the sidewalk had completely grown into the streets. Anyone who would have passed by could have tripped and fallen due to all the plants covering the sidewalk. The backyard was the same—everything was overgrown and untouched for so long. The pool contained no water— just weeds and debris. Branches from trees were scattered, and rose bushes looked like rose trees.
The rest of the volunteers from my local congregation and I got to work. We were provided with the tools to mow the lawn, cut branches of the trees, hedge the shrubs, and fertilize the planters near the house. We continued to prune the branches of the fruit trees and add mulch to the plants. After two hours, the front and backyard were once again recognizable. The homeowner gazed from their window and waved and nodded their appreciation for the help we were able to lend them.
I’d say this particular volunteer opportunity really stood out to me because the actual task of helping a senior with yard work is simple, and we take for granted the simple things we’re able to do. Secondly, taking care of our seniors and helping the elderly in your community is a part of the giving lifestyle. We’ve been taught to respect our elders and hold them in high regard. By helping them out, we’re able to continue to give them a sense of community and take away any feeling of loneliness or isolation. There are many jobs helping seniors and a lot of different types of jobs working with the elderly, so there’s a volunteer opportunity waiting for you.
If you haven’t been able to volunteer as of late, you should take the opportunity to. Any act of kindness goes a long way! So take the time to see how you can volunteer locally or even globally. You don’t have to go by yourself, ask your friends, family and anyone else to tag along and spend an afternoon or day making a difference in someone else’s life.
About the author:
Loris Jomok is a writer and editor at incmedia.org. She is also an active INC Giving volunteer in Southern California.