By: Stephanie Ntim
In just two years Senior Services volunteer, David Harlan, has touched the lives of countless seniors and made an impact on practically every department in the agency. Officially, he’s volunteered for Meals-on-Wheels, Aging with Purpose, the HUB (reception area), and Development. His quiet dedication to the Senior Services mission has aided Home Care, the Williams Adult Day Center, and virtually every member of the Senior Services family.
“David often helps with assignments that are in the background, but vital to keeping things running smoothly,” said Britnee Tellez, community engagement coordinator. “He is readily available to assist with whatever we need, and he does so with excellence. I have complete confidence that when David takes on a task, it will be completed well. During our last Remember in December donation drive we collected over 13,000 items. David was responsible for sorting, counting, and storing a massive number of donations. Each day that he volunteered, instead of being overwhelmed by how much work we had to do, he would always comment that he was glad that we had so much work because it meant that Senior Services participants would get the help that they needed.”
Harlan’s first introduction to Senior Services came through a ride along with a friend who wanted some company while delivering a Meals-on-Wheels route. Dave enjoyed the experience and the positive feelings it left him with stuck. So much so, he responded to the call for help after reading a request for Meals-on-Wheels volunteers in the newspaper a few years later. “I learned that Senior Services and Meals-on-Wheels do a lot of work for the community–for people that are in need. Then I found out what Senior Services does as far as helping people with day-to-day supplies: soap, toothbrushes—things that seniors needs,” he said. That prompted him to add volunteering at the Hub during Senior Services’ annual Remember in December and Christmas in July item drives to his list of ways to get involved and help.
Almost two years later, David is still going strong as a volunteer and finding multiple opportunities to help despite changes related to the COVID-19 pandemic. “There’s a lot of effort put into making sure that the programs are still running. Meals-on-Wheels has figured out how to make it safe but still have contact, as far as speaking to someone. I don’t just drop off the package. I make sure that participants are okay. You can tell that they [seniors] enjoy having someone stop by their house, even if it’s for a 5, 10-minute conversation,” Harlan said. The impact of Senior Services is immense in the communities the organization serves.
One thing that surprises Harlan about Senior Services is the great gratitude participants share for the organization. Through his numerous interactions as a volunteer, Harlan has noticed that participants often ask how he is doing. Harlan can tell that participants genuinely care about volunteer safety. That type of mutual sentiment is something he considers quite remarkable.
“Some of my experiences while delivering meals have really helped me adjust the way that I think. I had an extra meal left over at the end of my route one day and the last participant on my list was approved to receive an extra meal. She was so grateful for something that I, and a lot of
other people, would easily take for granted. She was so glad to get another meal…it meant so much to her to have another meal. It reminded me that there is a need out there for people to get help and make sure they are doing well and eating well,” he explained.
“Senior Services provides for the person that can’t get out, is maybe by themself, can’t drive, or can’t walk. Even if it is a small thing like a meal, soap, and toothbrush, some participants don’t have the means and ability to do things like this. Senior Services is there to provide for that person, as they can, to fulfill that need.”
While the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic may have passed, the need to support the community will not. With resilient, dedicated volunteers like David Harlan, Senior Services is prepared to help older adults age with purpose and live with dignity through acts of kindness and care for people in need.