Tag Archives: senior citizens

Resolve to Serve Stories: Senior Ride Nashville

A couple of times a week, Sara Stewart drives to the home of an elderly man named Richard. She helps him into the car, then takes him to doctors’ appointments or to the grocery store. Also on their list of stops: Coffee.

“There for a while we were trying to figure out what the best coffee was. He’s decided it’s McDonald’s,” Stewart says with a laugh.

Stewart, a volunteer for Senior Ride Nashville, says that what started out as a four-hour-a-month commitment has, over 120 trips, turned into a friendship. Volunteers for SRN use an online portal to select rides that work with their schedule, location, or interest.

“It’s become such an experience for both of us,” she says. Stewart supports Richard in ways big and small — from helping him with his grocery list to reaching out to his city council member to advocate for improved sidewalks near his home.

“I’m always there for Richard, no matter what he needs,” Stewart says.

That doesn’t surprise Carrie Brumfield, SRN’s executive director.

“We often hear the phrase, ‘It’s more than just a ride’ from our volunteer drivers,” she says.

Brumfield says reduced mobility can put a person at higher risk of poor health, isolation, loneliness, and depression, and that Nashville’s lack of public transportation options means many seniors may experience reduced life expectancy as a result.

Stewart, who’s been driving for the organization since its inception, says that she initially was drawn to act when she realized how isolating it would be to not have access to transportation. She said once it dawned on her that she might someday be in that same situation, she knew she had to do something.

“Pay it forward,” Stewart says. “It’s not even really a payment, because you get it back immediately.”

To find out more about volunteering as a driver, or to learn about other ways to help Senior Ride Nashville, click here.

Photos provided by Senior Ride Nashville

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Volunteer Spotlight: Kacie Kleja

Kacie Kleja plays a mean game of bingo. And while she’s at it, she’s giving seniors the valuable gift of human connection.

Kacie is a natural connector, and for the past three years, she’s been meeting new people and deepening relationships through service. Her regular commitment to Game Night, which takes place at Bordeaux Hospital, and Bingo Party at J.B. Knowles has become part of who she is, and she’s loved every moment.

“My favorite part of volunteering is the people.” -Kacie Kleja

Her service passion started in 2008, when a Hands On Nashville representative spoke to a group of HCA employees at the annual Caring for the Community Campaign. “It sparked my interest in finding additional volunteer opportunities in Nashville,” she comments, “and I was easily able to find project matches through the Hands On Nashville website.”

From there, she found her volunteering niche through playing bingo with senior citizens. At each project, Kacie takes time to engage with new people – her favorite part of service. “The residents look forward to having a night of fun and conversation,” she says. She also notes that both Bingo and Game Night “are great interactive activities with the people that live there. For some of the residents, it is truly the only interaction that they have. On multiple occasions I have had [residents] tell me that they wait all month for the activity. They are so appreciative of the volunteers.”

Volunteers bringing smiles to seniors at Game Night.

Kacie and the other volunteers have added so much value to the residents’ lives.

If you’re looking for a similar regular volunteer opportunity, Kacie recommends checking out the Hands On Nashville website and seeing which opportunities look intriguing. “There are a lot of projects that do not require a specific skill set, which makes it very easy to find a project match!”

Thanks to Kacie for her enthusiasm and commitment to providing companionship and valuable activities for our community’s senior citizens. Interested in joining her? Bingo Party at J.B. Knowles occurs on the third Wednesday of every month from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Game Night occurs on the fourth Tuesday of every month from 6 to 8 p.m.