Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Casino Night at Windsor Gardens

When you first walk into the dining room of Windsor Gardens Rehabilitation Center, it seems like nothing but a big room with two tables, a few residents and some volunteers. But, the room quickly fills up with laughter and fun as the seniors try to win a couple hands of blackjack...and they mean business! For every five chips they win, they receive a quarter (always rounding up, not down).

I met some very interesting residents, including Emmie, a very sweet lady in her late 60s, who seemed to be even more outgoing and vivacious in her younger years. Emmie and her partner in crime across the table seemed to love just having the company of fellow volunteers. The residents and volunteers sat together at the two tables, sharing stories of lifetime accomplishments, jokes and camaraderie. As the night progressed, the residents opened up to share stories of their past and even compliment the volunteers. I remember after Emmie won a few hands of blackjack, she looked at me with curious eyes and said, "You have such a pretty nose!" I looked at her with confusion and she quickly pointed to her nose to share that she felt her nose was just not as cute as mine. Most don't know this, but I have big ears that stick straight out of my head on both sides. I pulled my hair back and spoke clear enough for the table to hear, "Trust me honey your nose doesn't even COMPARE to these ears!!" The room burst into laughter from the quick comeback I had made. "I noticed, but didn't want to say anything," she replied.

The hour and a half seemed to fly by as some won money and others lost, while residents shared stories with volunteers, and as volunteers helped residents with their final hands. For my first volunteering in the Flex Program, it seemed like a project I would plan on attending again.

An hour of your time may become a lifetime memory for someone you helped.

Renee Bovee is a member of the Flex program and a volunteer blogger for Volunteer San Diego.

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