Volunteering at the VA


Earlier, I posted that I volunteer through an organization with opportunities in every state.  I have gotten the approval from those in charge that I am able to talk about where I volunteer.  You may have guessed that it is at my VA Medical Hospital- aside from being in the Emergency Department- I volunteer in our Community Living Center (CLC).  The CLC is what the VA calls their nursing home, and I love the new name.

I was on the fence about stating where I volunteer.  After talking it over with a close friend, I have decided that it may inspire someone to get involved with their local VA Hospital.

Each hospital will have a Voluntary Service Department, and they have many opportunities for volunteers.  I have met college students who give patient’s guitar lessons, older veterans who volunteer just to get out of the house after retirement, and high school students keeping out of trouble during the summer.   I have met women who say volunteering at the VA reminds them of their late husbands, who had served in the military.


Two poppies

I chose the VA because I respect my grandfathers, father, and brother’s military service.  The picture above is of my most cherished possession, two poppy flowers pressed into my grandfather’s WWII journal after he invaded Normandy.

I spent a lot of time in the VA in my hometown during the 90’s, and it was a logical choice to join my current VA as a volunteer.  When my grandfather died in a nursing home, a volunteer was with him reading her book.  I met her at his funeral, and her generosity has stayed with me all of these years.  I was very close to him, and it was difficult for me at his death.  I remember this wonderful woman easing my heart by telling me that she was with him when he passed.  That he was not alone.  I hope to repay this caring woman by following her example.

Birthdays and Western Literary Reviews

Rustic "21st" Birthday

Rustic “21st” Birthday

Every nursing home has a calendar displayed prominently in the facility.  It will show all sorts of activities planned for the residents, and the calendar is usually full of cool stuff and field trips.  On our calendar, the residents who are celebrating birthdays during the month are listed.

I love to make cards for people.  Above is a card I made for one gentleman who recently celebrated his 80-plus birthday.  He loves to read books, mostly about westerns.  When he was younger, he owned many horses and won many rodeo competitions.  His birthday card was very simple to make, and I could tell it made him happy that I remembered.  I wanted it look western/rustic and show some humor.  He loved the card, and laughed at the 21 years old reference!

On another day, I had given him a Johnny Cash book to read (which he finished in one day).  When I saw him again, he started telling me about meeting Cash in the 1940′s!  He decided to give me a book out of his personal western library.   This is the book he gave me to read.


I asked if he like it or if it was a good book.  He said, “Not really”.  We both started laughing while he tries to describe the book.  Apparently, it had too much plot that dealt with non-western topics, even though it falls in the western genre.  The non-western topic he was referring to was that one character had tuberculosis.  He said that he likes westerns only- no extra stuff.

My apologies to Mr. Grove.

A Little Background

When people find out that I volunteer in a nursing home, the first comment is usually about how they don’t know how I do it or that they couldn’t handle it.  This blog will explain how to become comfortable with the elderly and show you that you can do this!

My program connects volunteers with residents who do not have family or the family is too far away to visit often.  As of this date, I have been officially assigned to four residents.  On Monday, I will be assigned to two more gentlemen.  Although I am assigned to certain residents, I visit with everyone and become friends with all of the residents.  The only difference is that near the end of life, I sit, read to, calm, and comfort my personal residents as I am their “family”.

I see life in cycles/waves/circular, and Monday starts a new cycle for me at the center as I will meet my new residents.  I truly consider these men and women my friends, and speak of them as such.

Once I get permission from the people in charge, I will post more about where I volunteer because they have many opportunities in every state.  I am really looking forward to Monday.   My first assigned resident is in his 80′s, and makes me laugh every time I see him.  Of course, it is because he is actually making fun and laughing at me!  He always tells me that I am late when I come in, even though I don’t have a set visitation time.  He is such a firecracker, and I love it.