Hello everyone, my name is Deanne Hurst. As an AmeriCorps State member, I serve the West Yavapai Guidance Clinic in the Senior Peer Prevention Program. We are the only prevention program at WYGC, the rest being treatment programs.
One of the joys of being a member of the SPPP staff is working with so many wonderful volunteers. These are seniors who gladly give up their time for the benefit of other seniors who may be lonely and feeling isolated and depressed. These volunteers ask nothing in return, but the love and joy they give to their senior peer is almost indescribable.
We have 36 active volunteers who visit one or two participants each week. In addition to senior visits, we have 8 support groups led by some of our volunteers. These popular groups are open to the senior community at large and include Women of Wisdom, Senior Men, Hearing Loss, Vision Loss, LGBT, Grief and Loss, Artful Aging, and Memoir Writing.
We had a Holiday Potluck on December 22, 2016, to celebrate the holidays and show our appreciation to the volunteers. It was also an opportunity to say goodbye and thank you to our outgoing manager Terri Roza and hello to our new manager Connie Boston.
I tried to put our appreciation for what our incredible volunteers do into words in a knock-off of the classic poem “’Twas the Night Before Christmas.” We put several items into a holiday gift bag and presented them to our volunteers as Terri read the following poem. They seemed to like it!
To the Senior Peer Prevention Program Volunteers
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas
By Deanne Hurst
'Twas the night before Christmas and in West Yavapai
All the volunteers slept soundly, and we’ll tell you why;
They’d visited their participants, giving all that they could,
And when they had finished it made them feel good.
They gave of their time and their love and their cheer
To perk up the spirits of their dear senior peer.
But this gave ol’ Santa a cause for concern.
What could he give them, in kind, in return?
He stewed, he fretted, he worried he might fail,
When it suddenly hit him: he’d tell them a tale!
And after he said all the great things they’d given
They’d know in their hearts they were angels from heaven!
So he gathered some things, put them all in a bag,
And proceeded to think of the symbols he had.
Each item held meaning and stood for a gift
That each volunteer had and so selflessly left.
First thing in the bag was a flashlight so small,
But it stood for the great light they shined upon all.
Our seniors may be lonely and feeling unloved
But our volunteers surround them with friendship and love.
Next into the bag, Santa put a soft ball
Of white fluffy cotton to stand for the call
To give our dear seniors a soft place to rest
And lay down their worries and also feel blessed.
He then added cinnamon wrapped with a red bow
Which stood for the spice of life volunteers bestow
On their senior whose spirits had started to sag
In addition to this he added a bag . . .
. . . of tea for the comfort our volunteers impart
To their seniors who know it comes straight from their heart.
The tissues he added to dab up the tears
That may have been shed by our dear senior peers.
Along with the Kleenex each got a small bandage
For all of the healing they had helped to manage.
And inside the bag was a sweet jingle bell
Which stood for the listening that served them so well.
Last but not least he threw in hugs and kisses
(These were insisted upon by the Mrs.!).
When Santa had finished he let out a big sigh,
Jumped into his sleigh and took to the sky.
“What this world needs most are more people like you.
We can’t begin to thank you for all that you do!”
And they heard him exclaim as he flew out of sight,
“Thank you, volunteer angels, and to all a good night!”