Sunday, December 11, 2016

Service Project Report: Johnny's Story

Service Project
We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, and more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that. - Ellen DeGeneres
Initially, I was going to write my service project on the “Big Bend Homeless Coalition” located on Pensacola Street. But, I changed my mind because when I was there I felt like I was there because I knew I had to complete an assignment. I decided to write my service project on a nursing home I visited called “Westminster Oaks” instead. I chose this to write my service project on the nursing home because when I was there it was for no other reason but service. I found out about that nursing home because a friend asked me if I wanted to tag along with him to visit his grandmother. I went and learned that some of the elderly people that live there do not have any family to come visit them, and give them a change of scenery. So, I decided to go there on my spare time to play games and converse with some of those residents.
I went back to that nursing home because I felt like I could make a difference in at least one person’s life. It turned out I made a difference in more than one person’s life. I found out that a lot of these elderly people are depressed, because they are fighting some kind of elderly disease (arthritis, dementia, etc.). They don’t have family to look out for them and make them feel “human” (according to some of them). Some of the nursing assistants that are there are just for the pay check, so they wouldn’t go out of their way to just make a resident smile.  
Furthermore, I have come to the realization that money cannot genuinely make someone happy. That nursing home cost six thousand dollars a month. I saw this to stress that the residents here are well off. Some of us can’t even make six thousand dollars in a couple of months. The truth of the matter is that there are certain things that money cannot buy. For example, money can’t buy you a family, companionship, or love. All those things are valued by everyone and do not cost anything at all. In fact, the most valuable things in life cannot be bought with money.
While conversing with the residents at the nursing home, I have had a phenomenal glimpse of history. I have spoken to veterans from World War II that gave me a descriptive account of their experiences of the war in the 1940s. Specifically, a man named Steven Froster told me that he has seen so many dead people that the sight and smell of his own blood gives him panic attacks. He said it takes him back to the war where he would be talking to a solider one minute, then the next minute the soldier’s head is being blown off, and causing fresh warm blood to splatter on Steven’s face. The War gave him PTSD but he takes medication to keep it under control. His Wife died of breast cancer twenty years ago and his son died of a heart attack. He said that he has no other family member that can come visit him, so when I come play board games and bring him some lasagna (his favorite food) it brings joy to his otherwise “miserable life”. I also met a woman who was living in Russia during The Holocaust. At the time, she was a Jewish little girl who had watched her whole family slaughtered as she hid in her toy chest. She has no family to talk to or visit her at the nursing home where she is. She said at times she get very depressed and just wants to die. But, she said when I visit and bring her some of my wife’s Haitian dishes it gives her the opportunity to step out of her own reality for a little while.  
Finally, when someone does community service they always positively impact at least one person during the process. It really does not take much to put a smile on someone’s face. That has no meaning or value to one person but could make a big difference and mean the world to another. Every single elderly person I spent time with and either ate and played games with was more appreciative then I expected them to be. I was able to give them happiness that otherwise they would not have had. We need more kindness, more compassion, more joy, and more laughter. I definitely want to contribute to that. - Ellen DeGeneres

I wasn’t allowed to take pictures with the residents.