“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, What are you doing for others?” This quote by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. greets members at the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center and is a question that volunteers answer through action.
“Volunteering helps the Center,” shares Eva Talbot, a member and volunteer, “and the Center helps the seniors. I think that’s why most people volunteer—it really helps the seniors.”
Ms. Talbot started volunteering two years after the Center opened, first as a volunteer greeter. “I really liked it. I liked being with the seniors. At first, when I came here, I was nervous. But they were real nice and I had fun. I like hearing about their lives.”
The volunteer greeter welcomes members and visitors alike when they walk through the doors. Next to the greeter hangs the Volunteer board, which recognizes the Volunteer of the Year and emphasizes the importance of volunteering at the Center.
For the past ten years, Ms. Talbot has volunteered anywhere and everywhere in the Center: in the lunch room, serving hot food, at the front desk, or running a class. Ms. Talbot currently runs a Color Your Mind class. “I love that class, because the members color pictures, and they relax,” Ms. Talbot says. “They have different conversations about what’s been going on. It’s a very relaxing class.”
The Center’s many activities and programs help older adults stay busy and occupied. Volunteers help keep these activities and programs running. For seniors, staying busy and socializing is essential. “If they stay home, they worry about what’s wrong in life,” Ms. Talbot says, “but if they volunteer, they won’t have time to stay home and think about what’s wrong!”
Trips and outings especially keep the members busy. The Trip Coordinator plans many exciting outings for the members. These outings include monthly casino trips, winery visits, and holiday trips like the Sight and Sound Theater in Lancaster, PA. In September, they saw the Tony award-winning MJ: The Musical.
Rose Richardson, executive director of the West Philadelphia Senior Community Center, inspires Ms. Talbot and all the volunteers. “She really cares about the seniors. She makes sure they get food vouchers, turkeys, and all kinds of stuff. That’s what makes a lot of people want to volunteer, because of the way they’ve been treated.” And visitors will continue seeing Ms. Talbot around the Center, volunteering wherever needed.