Volunteers John and Amber are co-workers who volunteered together. John had this to say about their experience visiting with a Veteran in the Community Living Center at the Denver VA Medical Center:
“Robert” sat, hunched over his chair at a desk littered with papers. A wan ray of light filtered into what was an otherwise dimly illuminated space. Not the most inviting atmosphere. I was with one of my coworkers, Amber, and our trepidation at disturbing a person, ill with who knows what, made taking that first step into the room more than a bit difficult. We volunteered for this event because knowing the right thing to do typically proves easier than doing the right thing. Speaking for me, illness, loneliness and suffering make a rather unholy triumvirate that typically I avoid like the plague. But we were here, and we were not here for ourselves. We came to show honor for sacrifice and so my reticence seemed pretty pathetic in that light. We looked at each other, steeled ourselves, and I pushed Amber through the door. “Robert” turned around, looking a tad confused and not showing much enthusiasm at our presence. But then Amber noticed his art, with pictures covering nearly every surface of the room, some taped to his closet and bed, while others sat in tall stacks across any horizontal surface. As she was explaining why we were there, she complimented him on his work and asked a question or two about it. After less than two minutes of our being there, his eyes held a different, more cogent glow, and he stood from his wheelchair, straightened his robe, and invited us into his world. He pulled a lamp over and asked me to stack some of his pictures on top of one another, creating kaleidoscopes of color and pattern. He asked us to take pictures and directed me to play at will with his work, deriving new and different perspectives with each turn. In the end, we spent twenty minutes with “Robert” and I honestly don’t know who benefitted more, us or him. As we were leaving, he asked for help taking off his robe so he could put on his new shirt we brought, and he laughed, and he smiled, and he invited us back anytime.
(An example of “Robert’s” layered picture kaleidoscope)
Beth brought her husband along to volunteer with her and had these stories to share:
- We spoke with the most kind man, a 90-year old, WWII veteran. He was part of the US Army fighting in Italy. Very sweet, appreciative and humble soul.
- A Vietnam Marine veteran really thanked us for acknowledging his service and being thankful for his sacrifices. He said it was not like that when he was an active duty Marine.
- We spent quite a bit of time reminiscing with a Vietnam 82nd Airborne Division veteran, who shared stories about his parachute assault training. He also was so appreciative of our visit and thanks.
- Overall, GREAT experience for my husband and me.
Other Comments from our volunteers:
- Thank you again for arranging this event, it was a great experience and seeing the appreciation in their faces for the t-shirts, cards and just telling them thank you and shaking their hands. I know some of them could have talked to us all day! ☺Hoping we can do this event again next year!
- Thank you for stepping up as the coordinator. We had so many more volunteers this year than last. Even with the change in days it was still very special and rewarding. Anytime throughout the year, I would happily chip in to buy bags of goodies or essentials from Costco and go down on our own.