Afifa Fiaz is a junior at Florida International University. She was born in Pakistan and migrated to the U.S. with her parents at the age of 7. She is currently perusing a pre-med route and plans on going into the Physician Assistant Program at FIU. Her goal in life is to help people through medicine and volunteering experiences. She loves to explore new places, cook, draw, and give back to the community.
I volunteered with the Muslim Student Association council (MSA). MSA is a religious, a non-profit organization committed to the establishment and maintenance of Islamic societies in a community. As a part of the MSA, I have had many volunteering opportunities, such as feeding the homeless, toy drives, and many more! One very unique event that we organized was for the senior citizens in shelter homes that have been left by their families. This event was funded by other Muslims in the community and organized by volunteers.
The reason I chose this volunteering experience to mention out of all my other ones is because it holds a special place in my heart. Being able to host an event for the elderly that have been left in nursing homes by their families was an eye opener for me. Most of the senior citizens there had not been to any events since they arrived at the nursing home and were quite shocked to be invited to an event organized especially for them. This volunteering experience does not correlate to my major, however, it still allowed me to do something kind and special for others. It was also a great way to connect with many different personalities.
As someone who loves talking to people and learning about their life lessons, this was a perfect opportunity to talk and volunteer. I connected with this opportunity by talking to the senior guests that we hosted the event for. Each one had a unique experience and story of their own. One of the lessons that I received from many of the citizens was that life will always throw curve balls at you, it is up to you as to how you approach them in life that will determine your future.
WHAT AND WHERE?
When I received the announcement from the MSA head about hosting an event for the senior citizens, I knew that I wanted to be a part of this beautiful experience. Me and my friend took the initiative to step up and raise funds for the event. Raising funding was extremely challenging, however, we were able to get other Muslims on board once they saw our vision. We signed up people to volunteer and help make the event possible. Each volunteer helped cater food and set up the hall. Me and 7 other volunteers decorated the hall with flowers and banners. We even set up a photo booth with polaroid camera to help snap delightful moments through-out the night. The event took place on February 14th, 2022, at Al-Hikmat Center located in Pembroke Pines, Fl. Most of the senior citizens came in on time and we escorted them to their tables. We planned some games, and a dance floor for them. Most of us danced with the senior citizens to help them feel involved and valued. We set up the food and served it to them. I made rice for the event, while others made chicken curry, pasta, kebabs and much more. All throughout we could see the senior citizens enjoying themselves and letting loose.
The best part was talking to the senior citizens one on one. When we were accompanying them on the floor, I got the opportunity to talk to them about their life. One thing I asked them all was to tell me one life lesson they learned. Each one of them was eager to tell me their own version of life lessons and experiences. To see their faces light up was so heart-warming, making all the efforts that were put towards the event feel accomplished.
During the middle of the event the head counsel and some senior citizens gave speeches about the event. The event came to an end with the passing of small take home goodie bags that we made earlier. Each goodie bag was filled with things to remember the night and a polaroid of the senior citizens to take with them.
Waiting for approval
Volunteering at the Senior citizen was by far the most emotionally rewarding volunteering experience in my life. Taking lead in an event such as this came with its challenges, but when it all came together, all the sweat and tears were worth it. Not only was the event successful, it also brought light into the senior citizens life again. Children often forget about the social impact of their parents life in nursing homes, what they don’t realize is that as human being we are one of the most social species on Earth. This event was the perfect example of how small efforts can make the senior residents feel important and welcomed. I personally believe that this event should be held every year or more events like these should happen often. The elderly are an important part of our society and deserve just as much support and love.
All in all, volunteering can be beneficial to both you and the community. It’s a form of communication that helps build support systems in your life. It can protect you from stress, depression, and other mental challenges. Volunteering according to researchers in London School of Economics also triggers the happiness effect, which indicated that the more people volunteer, the happier are. It can also teach you valuable job skills like managing and organizing Benefits of Community Service. As Mahtama Gandhi said, “The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.”
“Benefits of Community Service.” Community Engagement, https://www.wcsu.edu/community-engagement/benefits-of-volunteering/#:~:text=Volunteering%20keeps%20you%20in%20regular,and%20reduce%20stress%20and%20anxiety.