Participants of Didlake’s Opal Day Support Program connect with local senior citizens by volunteering at Mintbrook Senior Apartments, a 55+ community in Bealeton.
Activities vary each visit, but often include bingo, arts and crafts, and birthday and holiday celebrations. Day Support participants and senior residents worked together weekly during the holiday season to make ornaments for display in the lobby and breakroom. Didlake also sometimes collects items for Mintbrook’s food pantry for residents. Didlake has volunteered at Mintbrook for about two years. By all accounts, it’s a rewarding experience for all involved.
“It means a lot to me because I like to help others and to do group activities with everyone. I feel so much joy to be back and doing different activities with others. Just to see the smile on their faces lets me know that I’m welcomed back and that they’re glad to see me,” Rolanda said, upon returning to Mintbrook in August after a break due to the pandemic.
“Having people with disabilities come in has helped us to become an even better community and an even closer one,” said Mintbrook Property Manager Ana Montoya. People come from all walks of life and everyone is accustomed to something. By working with Didlake and other groups, we have realized that everyone has a different story. And, our senior residents, like Liz and Marla, cannot wait to see the participants every time they come. They are actively involved in each activity.”
Mintbrook Senior Apartments, which opened in 2016, is owned by The Humanities Foundation of South Carolina and managed by JDC Management LLC. Montoya noted that she strives to build community by bringing in various people and groups for presentations and interactive activities. She is always seeking new activities for the residents and welcomed the opportunity to partner with Didlake when Charlene Webster, Program Services Assistant II, approached her with the idea.“ We have a wonderful time skill building every time we volunteer. We connect well and build positive relationships. One of our participants has autism and seeing him learn to assist me with calling the numbers is the reason I love what I do,” Webster said.
Frequent volunteers Alyssa, Albert, Rolanda, Sherry, Raymond, Phyllis and Rodney said they enjoy interacting with the seniors, meeting new people and building relationships in the community.
“I’m proud that I can give back to the community. It feels good and wonderful to be back,” Alyssa said. When asked how it felt to be back for the first time in months, Raymond said, “I like it! I missed them.”
While most of the volunteers and seniors play bingo, Rodney and resident Richard spend their time together watching Western shows. Richard requested that Rodney and Mintbrook staff knock on his door and let him know whenever he visits. Rodney enjoys watching Gunsmoke and fixing the television with Richard.
“Charlene is very organized – she comes well prepared for the activities for the day and it goes smoothly. As Didlake volunteers have visited more and interacted with the residents, they have seen how friendly they are and it has made the residents more sensitive to others. I would like for them to continue coming here because they have really enriched our community,” Montoya said.