Youth Forward scholarship 2016 – Connections

Name: Alyssa Reinhardt
From: Strongsville, Ohio
Grade: 11
School: Strongsville High School
Votes: 0


The act of volunteering and connecting with others and my community more
closely has always been a cornerstone of my life. I began as an
excited middle-schooler, eager to join as many volunteering clubs as
I could. As time progressed, my efforts to better the lives of those
around me shifted focus from making holiday cards for homeless
shelters and reading to children to an act that I find both
personally fulfilling and extremely effective: volunteering at a
nursing home.

The nursing home down the street from my house has been a host for my
volunteer efforts for a year. In this time, I’ve visited three
times per week on a fairly regular schedule. At first, I selected
this opportunity because the nursing home was close to my house and
it seemed convenient at the time. However, I would like to think
that I would have chosen it anyways, no matter the location, because
I have enjoyed my experience and I have made a real difference in the
lives of the people at the home.

My average, but never dull, responsibilities as a volunteer at this
nursing home include organizing and hosting a recreation hour for the
residents and aiding them in their tasks afterwards, such as aiding
them on the way to their rooms and helping them get comfortable in
other activities. Although these tasks may not immediately seem
stimulating to myself or those I help, the interactions I have with
the residents are worth the four hours spent per visit. I am able to
learn about the residents’ lives and hear their stories while
creating new stories for them to share with others. The microcosm of
a nursing home may seem ordinary or even depressing, but it is filled
with people that have lived interesting and full lives that they
intend to improve upon daily.

As a volunteer, my biggest challenge has been aiding and connecting with
residents that are ill, physically or mentally. While it may be easy
to help someone into a chair before a game of cards, helping them
feel happy and included during the actual game can be quite
difficult. I often feel guilty if I cannot immediately understand
the needs of residents and help them feel better. However, I feel
the most satisfaction from volunteering at the home when I am able to
understand a resident’s needs and do or say something to make them
feel at ease.

Volunteering at the nursing home has given me an extraordinary amount of insight
on the meaning of human life and the connections between people.
Before my volunteering experience, I did not think much of what older
people might be doing or thinking, nor did I think much about what I
would do when I reach their age. However, volunteering at the
nursing home has taught me that all people possess meaningful and
deep lives and that people of all ages can help each other.

Join our Facebook group "Volunteers for a Better World".