On a very cold, sunny Thursday morning in March, I drove out to Warren, MN to visit a MAVA Member: Dancing Sky Area Agency on Aging. I went to high school in Warren, and was surprised to find that Dancing Sky AAA, along with their umbrella organization, the Northwest Regional Development Commission, were housed in what used to be the local hospital — in fact, my mom was born there!
In my nearly six months at MAVA, this was my first non-Zoom, in-person connection meeting. I was expecting a quiet chat with a couple people, and what I got was a party. I arrived to find a breakfast spread with muffins, fruit, and coffee, with six place settings. “Nobody ever visits us up here!” said Beth Budziszewki, who is the supervisor of the Senior Linkage Line.
Who else was there:
Helen Phalen, Senior Linkage Line Phone Specialist
Danica Robson, Development Supervisor
Darla Waldner, Program Director
And Ilayne Potucek, one of their regular volunteers
Benefits of volunteering
We talked about the benefits of volunteering, and how the benefits aren’t always obvious right away. Darla told a story of an older volunteer who was working on a project putting together stacks of informational folders. One day, the volunteer realized that the project had improved her finger dexterity so much that she could suddenly open her own coffee creamer packets again.
I asked Ilayne, “What are the benefits of volunteering for you?”
“It gets me out of the house,” she said, “I’ve made so many new friends. And it makes me feel good when they’re happy with the work I’ve done. Plus I like to laugh so we do that here.”
As evidence that the group laughs a lot, Helen was telling me about the red superhero-style capes they wear at heath fairs. She left the room and came back modeling the cape. She said they were “a great conversation starter” at networking events.