Volunteering: Receiving More than Giving

Kelly Sumi Park, volunteer in long-term care.

Kelly Sumi Park, volunteer in long-term care.

I was born in South Korea and spent my childhood in Seoul, a nice and vibrant city. After high school, I moved to the United States to study, received my bachelor’s degree in nursing from Troy University and, shortly afterward, moved to California for a job. While there, I realized that my heart craved more studies and, after doing some research, I chose Memorial University.

I have been in St. John’s for only six months and within this short span of time I’ve met a lot of friendly people who shared their love and affection with me and I wanted to reciprocate it.

That’s why I chose to volunteer.

The fact is, meeting and sharing time with new people through volunteer work always makes me happy. I’m an altruist by nature and volunteering adds value to my life. Because I used to work as a registered nurse in the United States, I felt by volunteering with Eastern Health, I was back on home ground.

I chose to volunteer at Eastern Health’s long-term care facilities. My grandmother raised me while I was young, so I have a special bond with seniors.

Kelly Sumi Park, volunteer in long-term care, as a child.

Kelly Sumi Park as a child.

During a recent casino day activity, I was so happy to meet the residents. One elderly lady with pretty blue eyes, wearing beautiful make-up and many rings came to our blackjack table. Her rings aroused my curiosity and I realized that each ring told stories of unforgettable events in her life. Knowing that reviving and sharing beautiful memories is a pleasure for residents, I asked her about the jewelry. While hearing the story of each ring, I could see all her old memories come to life.

Later on, a male resident came to join us. He was hearty and witty. As dealer, I was busy counting card points for four other residents while the game was in progress. When I made a mistake counting points, he corrected me. I still vividly recall the smiling face of the resident who won seven times at blackjack and seeing his smile delighted me.

At the end of casino day, the volunteer coordinator asked: “What would be one word to describe your volunteer experience today?” My answer was “company.”

Residents just want is someone to talk to or to spend time with them. Sometimes simple things are the key to healing.

Volunteer with Eastern Health

Volunteer with Eastern Health

Volunteering with Eastern Health has improved my quality of life and provided me valuable lessons. I volunteer to contribute to my community, but in return, I have received more than I gave. Some might think that there is more happiness in receiving than in giving but, it is the opposite. I have never learned or experienced so much in such a short time.

Volunteering brings enormous benefits; in my case it makes me happier and healthier. You may be surprised about the huge impact of volunteering on your life.

It certainly has a significant impact on mine. ■

This story was written by Kelly Sumi Park, a Memorial University student originally from South Korea and a new volunteer at long-term care facilities at Eastern Health.

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