If you have a passion for the news and are looking to do direct volunteer service, the NCJW/Essex Current Events program, in partnership with local independent living residences, is a sure fit. Volunteers facilitate groups of senior citizens in engaging and timely discussions of local, national and world events.
I expressed my interest, went to one of the groups as an observer and I was hooked! In the last two years I’ve facilitated groups with all types of volunteers, both men and women. The common denominator is our desire to bring newsy discussions to people who sometimes aren’t heard or listened to on the topics of the day.
I found out quite quickly that seniors have strong opinions and want to express them. The role of facilitator is to set an open, honest and respectful tone and try and give everyone a chance to speak. We don’t share our personal opinions, but rather keep the discussion moving and suggest topics should the conversation lag.
What happens in a typical hour-long group? I usually have a list of topics on my phone along with an ending joke or funny story…always a hit! We work in groups of two facilitators each week; some facilitators work with notes, others bring clippings from newspapers. We begin by asking, “What would you like to talk about today?” and then it’s off to the races!
There are people of differing political persuasions in every group. We’ve spent hours talking about the state of the presidency, the #MeToo movement, moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, the North Korea summits, climate change, local elections, self-driving cars and other tech innovations…the list goes on and on. We’re always looking for additional facilitators. You don’t need to have any experience with seniors, just a desire to lighten up their day with a lively discussion. Make that first call and join the Current Events team! Email firstname.lastname@example.org.