This I Believe

Matthew - Indian Head Park, Illinois
Entered on October 5, 2006
Age Group: Under 18
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I believe giving is getting. Although a material item can be given, the item one can get in return is not always tangible. Sometimes it is a belief, a thought, or a feeling. The things one can get in return for giving of themselves to somebody for a short period of time can produce riches not like any money in the world.

This past summer, I volunteered at The Birches Nursing Home. The Birches specializes in the care of the elderly afflicted with dementia and Alzheimer’s disease. I have a special understanding of these two ailments, due to the fact that my grandmother is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. I felt this was something I should do because some kids my age might be afraid when somebody with Alzheimer’s repeats themselves over and over or doesn’t know where they are. This is my grandmother’s life everyday. Although it is hard to accept, I feel that interacting with others afflicted with this illness can only help me understand and deal with it.

One day every week, I spent two or three hours with those living at The Birches. I spent time with the residents and helped out with tasks around the facility. Each day I either participated in activities at the home like Men’s Club or accompanied the residents on outings, such as picnics in the park or lunch trips to the Kerry Piper. These events have forever changed who I am.

I believe giving is getting. The memories I received from my work at The Birches will impact every day of my life. They will affect my personality and actions. They will push me to take every situation I am in and look at it in a new light. The relationships I formed with some of the residents at The Birches will encourage me to think about things in a new light. Tossing horseshoes with all of the guys during Men’s Club. Getting beaten at pool by Otto, claiming all the time that he had a bum eye. Serving lunch to the residents in the dining room. Stuffing envelopes for the Walk For Dementia with Ted and Phyllis. Or the countless games of rummy with Frank. Every one of these memories has taken my personality and shaped it into something new, something better. The residents at The Birches will probably never know what acts of kindness they have involuntarily shown me. Chances are they will never remember me, but I will never forget them.