June 5, 2014

RSVP – Lead With Experience: Friendship and Gratitude, By-products of Good Deeds

By Bill Sedlacek
Retired and Senior Volunteer Program of Eastern Iowa and Western Illnois

In a continuation of last month’s Volunteers Lead By Example Spotlight, we’d like to share more stories of how RSVP volunteers have enriched the lives of others or
provided comfort when comfort is the only thing one can give. I feel these stories explain how RSVP volunteers make a difference in our community and why they, the ones who see the fruit of their efforts firsthand, are so certain their efforts are worth it and that they truly do lead by example.

A Befriender (One who provides a listening ministry) at Trinity was comforting a 94 year old World War 2 veteran and survivor of a POW camp. The Befriender had a brother who was killed in World War 2. In an amazing coincidence, they learned the veteran and the brother had fought together in Italy. The veteran told the Befriender of his incredible experiences as a soldier and POW, saying he wanted to relate the story in honor of the brother. The veteran then confided that he had never shared what he was telling the Befriender with his own family. They shed tears together, and the Befriender encouraged the veteran to share his experiences with his family. This story left me wondering –“Incredible coincidence or divine intervention near the end of a man’s life?”

A volunteer regularly visits a man who is shut-in with dementia. They both had been teachers together. The homebound individual’s favorite subject is football, and he speaks of the days when he played for Iowa State. I suspect the
volunteer has heard the stories more than a few times. But, I know the volunteer listens and is rewarded with smiles and knows that he has brightened someone’s day.

One Volunteer speaks of “The relief in people’s eyes when they receive the help they need in filing their tax returns.”

Another tells of “A very young girl gratefully hugging the leg of a food bank volunteer, smiling as she does so.” Even at her young age the child knows food insecurity first hand. Her innocent childlike gratitude for the help is genuinely touching.

A volunteer who is also a blood donor with a “60 gallon” sticker on his car window stopped at Walgreens. An obviously disabled young man in a wheel chair knocked on the car window. With tears running down his cheeks, the young man said, “I can’t thank you enough. I have used many units of blood and can’t tell you how much people such as you have done for me.” Before wheeling away, the young man said, “I’m proud to have met you.”

If the above stories touch or inspire you, please consider volunteering. You can do so at your own personal comfort level. You may call RSVP at (309) 793-4425, Email RSVP@WIAAA.ORG or for more information, go to https://www.facebook.com/RSVPofEasternIAandWesternIL and click on “Like.”

Filed Under: Community