Helping Myself, Helping Others

For my Developmental Psychology class, we’re required to participate in a field placement. I chose to visit Freedom Village, a senior living community located in Holland. While I don’t envision myself coordinating events or changing the beds for the elderly in my future, it has been quite gratifying. I’d like to share a few of my experiences.

There’s a man on the second floor in temporary care due to multiple sclerosis. He has trouble with fine and gross motor movements because of his disability, and I’m sometimes assigned to spend time with him upstairs.

One day, we were bored.

“Well, what should we do?” I asked him, tired of crossword puzzles.

“How about we send an email to my lovely wife.” He didn’t move at all to gesture toward a device from which we could send the email, of course, because he couldn’t. I had to ask him where his phone was.

Upon finding it and pulling it out, I opened his email and found his wife’s name in his contacts. At his own pace he detailed to me the email he wanted to send, and I copied it down accordingly. When he was finished, I asked him if it looked good and he agreed. I sent the email off to his wife.

“Let’s do another one…this one is going to be to Brooke,” he said. I raised my eyebrows in surprise, to me? He nodded. I shrugged and began typing in my email address in a blank email.

“Dear Brooke,” he began, “Thank you for helping me to send an email to the woman that I love the most. Your friend, {I omit his name here for confidentiality}.”

My blush felt a million times hotter than it probably looked, but I was truly filled with a dense gratification. I didn’t send the email to myself, but I kept his words in my heart.

In another instance, I was yet again reminded of how much we’re needed by those in our community.

“It’s time for me to go now, maybe I can come visit you next time I’m here,” I told an old woman who had suffered from a stroke and was mostly limited to her bed and walker.

“I would like that very much,” she told me, and gestured for a hug. I leaned into her frail arms, her smell of soap and oatmeal, trying as hard as I could not to break her.

Pulling back, she smiled at me, and I found it hard to walk out the door. I vowed to return to her room in the future for more conversations.

Hope fosters an environment that makes it imperative for the students to realize that they’re needed in the community and the world. My experience at the senior living center is a small one compared to some of the other experiences going on around campus. It’s truly invaluable, the work we can do for others. It’s experiences like these that shape us.

Matthew 5:16
Matthew 5:16

If you have any questions for me you can contact me at brookelyn.wharton@hope.edu, through Facebook, or my twitter @hopebrooke18! I’d love to answer them!