The Power of Friendships
Adopt-a-Senior was the brain child of Roza Kolonjari and Shiva Khalilnia. Best friends for more than twenty years, they share some fundamental values. One of these values is the desire to help people in need which, when combined with the strong bonds both women had with their grandparents, turned into “Adopt-a-Senior”.
They began by recruiting their mothers and sisters to help prepare a Thanksgiving dinner for LOFT seniors. Then the program expanded to include Easter as well. These days, it is a year-round effort with much of the energy and the majority of their fundraising focused on the Holiday Season, and their goal of ensuring that every single LOFT senior has a Very Merry Christmas.
As the project has grown they have reached out to involve friends as well as family. Volunteer team leaders each take responsibility for one seniors program, or a portion of a program. Team leaders recruit team members, who receive a Wish List from the clients of their program. Then the team raises the money they need and buys each client a gift. Each gift is individually wrapped and has a hand-written note addressed to the recipient. For the 2012 season, volunteers delivered more than 600 gifts!
And as if that weren’t enough, each team organizes and caters a Holiday Party where Santa delivers the gifts to their clients. “They are such wonderful events”, says Debra Walko, LOFT Director of Seniors Services. “The clients have such a good time. So many of them have really had nothing like this in their lives. The fact that all the gifts have hand written labels with their names means a lot. There are always some tears, especially when it’s a senior who has never been given a gift before. And the staff members just enjoy seeing the clients so happy.”
It is a massive project, with literally dozens of volunteers and about a hundred donors. Come December it is also just hard work to get everything ready. Why do they do it? As Shiva says to her volunteers each year, “the day you come to the party and give these gifts, you won’t believe how good you will feel.”
That’s the power of friendship!
If you would like to support this program and adopt a senior this holiday season, please do so here and choose “Adopt-a-Senior” in the drop-down menu.