Two generations, same cause
September 23, 2019 | posted by J. Antonio Fernández
Topics: Catholic Charities
Two generations, same cause
At Catholic Charities, we serve all people. We don’t care who you are or why you need our help. We simply want to serve those who need us most. Sometimes our client is an at-risk child and sometimes our client is an isolated senior. Regardless, we can’t reach our clients without the help of our community.
In 2017, Pope Francis reminded us that the church holds the elderly with high esteem and gratitude for all they have contributed to our communities. He said, “They are an essential part of the Christian community and of society: in particular they represent the roots and the memory of a people … there is still so much that institutions and social structures can do to help older people to make the most of their abilities, to facilitate their active participation, particularly to ensure that their personal dignity is always respected and appreciated” (“Pope Francis on the Elderly,” August 24,2017).
Catholic Charities strives to connect with our seniors in many ways, but Adopt-A-Senior is particularly special. The program connects compassionate volunteer companions with isolated seniors in an effort to encounter and accompany each other on their paths to faith and wholeness. For the senior, they receive monthly visits to reduce the effects of isolation by engaging them in meaningful conversations and relationships. And for the volunteer, they receive the satisfaction and purpose of transforming a life and changing a future while also benefiting from the wisdom and maturity in the experiences shared by the senior.
Recently, the Catholic Charities Young Adult Board, a group of Catholic, service-minded young adults, met with seniors in the Adopt-A-Senior program. One young adult, Erika, returned to the Summer of Service event from last year. She was fortunate to be paired with the same senior, Mr. Longoria, in this year’s Adopt-A-Senior. They remembered each other and picked up where they left off last summer. During her visit, she delivered a box of hygiene items and a bag of food to Mr. Longoria who was so grateful. But, she also engaged him in meaningful conversation. He shared his life experience being unable to walk due to a disability. Coming from a family of military servicemen, this was challenging, but not a life defining moment for him. Erika says, “visiting with a senior can slow down time. I learned that Mr. Longoria knew the art of being. As a young adult, I often watch the clock and check my task list, but Mr. Longoria taught me to be in the moment which is the true action of encountering another by acknowledging their soul. His soul has dignity worthy of being acknowledged and loved. I want to stay connected to the Adopt-A-Senior program to make a difference in the life of another.”
Adopt-A-Senior requests volunteers to engage isolated seniors regularly. Potential volunteers are asked to commit to their assigned senior for a minimum three months with visits employing good listening, communication skills, and compassion. The minimum age is 18 with younger companions required to have adult supervision on visits. English and Spanish speakers are welcomed.
For more information about joining the Adopt-A-Senior program, contact Lupe Morin at (210) 222-1294. The next Adopt-A-Senior orientation is Saturday, Sept. 14. Volunteers are asked to watch a video and complete a criminal background check prior to attending orientation.