Our expansion this year into being involved with the well being and care of older citizens is something we are grateful for at the Flawless Foundation. In our previous blogs, we have featured one of our favorite leaders in this field, Paula Resnick, Founder of The Meeting House and this feel-good story about her work with this population is our Thanksgiving inspiration.
DOROT is an innovative nonprofit organization in New York City that mobilizes volunteers of all ages to improve the lives and health of the elderly, addressing the challenges of an aging society. DOROT provides fun, friendship, and community for seniors using an intergenerational model. Paula has been involved with DOROT for over twenty years as a volunteer lay leader.
The Resnicks’ involvement in DOROT has always been a family affair. Paula likes to say that she “married into Dorot.” When Paula began dating her husband Ira over twenty years ago, his late mother was the sponsor of the Thanksgiving Banquet and his sister was on the Board. For their third date, Paula attended the annual Dorot Thanksgiving Banquet and met the entire Resnick family and many colleagues on the DOROT staff.
This past Sunday, the tradition continued and the Resnick family volunteered at the banquet with over three hundred attendees. The volunteers, a diverse group ranging from ages 8 to 80 included families, teen interns and adults. Orientation and training started early in the morning on how to be great volunteers and also on how to connect with seniors. At the same time, two hundred and fifty other volunteers were delivering holiday meals and sharing “friendly visits” with homebound seniors across the city.
It was a lively day, full of special moments that all attendees and volunteers could enjoy. In addition to serving a traditional Thanksgiving meal with many courses, there were performances by a senior choir, an intergenerational choir, and even a flashdance. Local politicians spoke at the meal, including Congressman Jerry Nadler, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, and a representative for New York State Senator Brian Benjamin. These holiday banquets serve as a reminder to seniors and theintergenerational attendees that we are all worthy and deserving of friendship, connection, and community.
The Meeting House continued to build on that message yesterday when older adults from DOROT’s Book Buds Program visited TMH. The Thanksgiving program featured an inter generational reading about important values around gratitude and friendship. The seniors read Thanksgiving books to the students, participated in arts and crafts activities, and all were treated to a day full of new friendships.
As Paula shared, “It is a wonderful experience for children to see things from someone else’s perspective and learn about someone else’s circumstances. It helps to develop empathy and compassion, and children learn to respect and value what elders can offer. They begun to understand the wisdom and insight that older adults can impart. It is a wonderful mutual relationship, an exchange, where the children learn from the seniors and seniors gain a great deal of personal satisfaction and fulfillment. Both leave with a boost in their confidence based on a new experience
We can all be inspired from the common mission of Dorot and The Meeting House. Let’s take a moment this Thanksgiving season to forge a new connection with someone from a different generation, to offer and receive one of the greatest gifts – friendship. Science proves that human connection brings a variety of essential health benefits so reach out to a relative, a neighbor or volunteer at a local Senior Center. As Paula so passionately stated, “Give the gift of friendship and you get back more than you give.”