Since July 2011, I have been serving as an AmeriCorps ReServist in the Queens Library‘s Mail-A-Book program. In this role I serve older adults in their 70′s, 80′s, and 90′s who are housebound. I moderate a phone chat where seniors meet, talk, and listen to guest callers. And in my interactions with these seniors, I come away with a sense of appreciation, which has grown as I get to know them. I see their sense of humor, their perspective on life, on problems both big and small.
For sure, these seniors really like each other. There is a sense of, “If you’ve made it this far, I’ve got your back.” If someone is feeling down, or has a problem with a bill, or some daily annoyance, they can put it out to the group and receive support. The great thing is that they feel safe enough to talk about it. Mostly to people they’ve never met, but whose voices and inflections are known like a member of their family.
Some people are known for showing great feats of courage. An astronaut, a policeman, fireman, or high-tech hospital worker. At Mail-A-Book, these seniors show theirs by facing a new day with a positive attitude and a willingness to keep learning.
From Queens, Richard Kagan had a career as a writer and journalist primarily in the arena of sports. While a staff writer for Education Update he wrote profiles and covered games on high school and college sports in the NYC area. As a volunteer for JASA he wrote and published the booklet “A Collection of Personal Histories” which was culled from the oral history of the holocaust survivors in the Holliswood Senior Center. He joined ReServe in 2010 and was placed in the Queens Library Project, a collaboration among ReServe, Queens Library, AmeriCorps and the Charles H. Revson Foundation. To commemorate Older Americans Month, ReServe invited ReServists to write original essays about their current or past assignment. This is one of twelve essays. – ED