Over the course of two days during the Martin Luther King Jr. Day weekend, nearly 20 volunteers from Council on Aging of West Florida made an impact on nearly 50 individuals - young and old - in Escambia County.
The volunteers, who normally serve Council on Aging as Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents, take part in an MLK Day of Service project each year that improves the community in some meaningful way. Senior Companions are healthy older adults who help other adults live independently, while Foster Grandparents give their experience and talent to help children in K-12 schools develop the skills, confidence and strength to succeed in life. Together, they use their own resources to give generously to others.
On Jan. 12, several volunteers gave goody bags full of hygiene and personal care products to clients of the Rehabilitation Center at Park Place. Throughout the prior week, Council on Aging Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents compiled the bags with donations given by Comfort Inn Pensacola, as well as Hilton Inn, Hampton, Holiday Inn and Days Inn of Pensacola Beach.
As Rehabilitation Center clients streamed into the large meeting area at Park Place, the smiling faces of volunteers were waiting to make their day a little brighter with music, dancing, food and of course the goody bags.
"I just love what I do," said Rosie Smith, a Senior Companion of nearly a year. "You can tell the clients really appreciate it and it just makes me so happy. I%u2019ll definitely participate again next year."
On Jan. 15, almost a dozen Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents gathered at Ronald McDonald House of Northwest Florida to cook and serve food to the families staying at the facility. Both the Seniors Companions and Foster Grandparents had purchased the ingredients and supplies with their own money and spent several hours that day preparing the food and ensuring it would be hot, delicious and ready for the clients%u2019 noon mealtime.
Several of the volunteers went above and beyond leading up to the Day of Service, recruiting their friends and families to donate to Ronald McDonald House. When the big day came, the Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents were able to present a check for $100 to the organization.
"The Ronald McDonald House has done a lot for my family personally, and giving back to them in this small way means so much to me," said Beverly Dubay, a Foster Grandparent of six years. "I love working with my fellow Foster Grandparents on this. It%u2019s a lot of fun and I know the families will be so appreciative. I certainly was when I stayed at a Ronald McDonald House."
Council on Aging of West Florida%u2019s Senior Companions and Foster Grandparents truly believe in giving back to the community in every way they can, not just among elders and children, but to any cause that supports the less fortunate among us. This MLK Day of Service certainly proved that, but for our senior volunteers, every day is a day of selfless, passionate service.
Council on Aging of West Florida is compliant with the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance Standards for Charity Accountability. Learn more at www.bbb.org.