The following post is from Taylor '17, first-year program participant.
In our nightly meeting Tuesday night, our team leaders said we would be working with elderly people and young children (both of which I do not have experience with) at the local YMCA on Wednesday morning. When they said that I was very nervous and kept thinking “What do I do with little kids? ” “What do I talk to people about who are four times my age?” “What if…? What if…? What if…?” but once I walked through the YMCA doors and got talking to ninety two year old Mary in her pink knitted sweater, I definitely calmed down. She came and sat down next to me and starting talking and told me about her life, everything from her attending Moravian College many years ago, her nursing job at St Luke’s Hospital and even her daughter’s exciting trip to Rwanda fifteen years ago! After we talked for about an hour we went upstairs for the senior exercise class, which was a combination of jazzercise, lifting and just moving around! Seeing Mary and her friends getting into it made me, as well as other members of The 1742 Experience, smile, laugh and even get more into it ourselves! After their class, as we were saying goodbye, Mary said “Good luck with your major and come back to visit!” and gave me a hug as if I were her actual granddaughter, which was so sweet of her.
In the afternoon after we ate our bagged lunches, we played with children (ages of seven to nine). We went outside and played many games including relay races, ships and sailors, and rock tree bridge but also went swimming inside. I’ve never seen anyone with as much energy as these young kids had, never getting tired, even when chasing us on the grass and dunking us under water! Getting out of the pool and ready to leave all the little kids came up to us and gave us hugs wanting us to stay longer, which was a marvelous feeling.With this experience being my real first time interacting with elderly people and younger kids I can honestly say that I enjoyed it and will definitely volunteer again! It was great to see the look on peoples faces, whether if it was from an ninety two year old woman telling me about her family, or a seven year old boy telling me about his favorite baseball team, just learning about new people felt amazing and I can’t wait to volunteer in the community again in the near future.