This fall semester I had the privilege of volunteering at Iona Senior Services in Tenleytown for my Multicultural Health course for the Community Service Learning Project. The Wellness and Arts Center at Iona operates from 8am to 5pm providing an all-day adult health care center. They meet the cognitive, physical, and emotional needs of an older adult population. Regarding physical activity, they provide a wide array of classes such as yoga and tai chi for all physical capabilities. They have enriching art programs, fitness classes, support groups that bring the participants together and fulfill their needs. As a volunteer, I have been able to assist the staff with the art and social elements of the schedule. During my hours, I have been interacting with participants, coloring and creating art with them. Also, I engage them in conversations about their days, pasts, and about other current events. The conversations that we have are beneficial to their cognitive health and creates a sense of community for them.
While studying Multicultural Health I have learned the significance of being culturally competent and respecting client’s cultural backgrounds in order to best serve. The community at Iona are older adults and I have been practicing effective communication skills and learning how to be team player. This group of people have specific needs and concerns such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, vision and hearing loss, and difficulty walking. As a volunteer I need to practice patience, being mentally present, engaging in conversation, and having positive body language. I need to always be happy and optimistic while on the job because this is what this population group requires of me. Also, I should never attempt to do or help in a way I am not certified or qualified in doing, such as helping a participant stand. Furthermore, my project will most likely be a flyer providing suggestions as to reminders of how volunteers should engage when working with older adults. I am having an incredible experience at Iona thanks to the great staff, participants, and CSLP office!