Wednesday, June 28, 2006

The Life Legacies of Senior Companions

On Tuesday morning, I had the privilege of speaking about ethical wills to our local Senior Companion volunteers. This lively group of 75 or so people are seniors in our community who are providing support and companionship for over 700 other seniors and disabled adults throughout Lane County.

As I looked out from the podium at the women (and a few men) in the group, I felt a deep sense of gratitude for this generation of people who are willing to serve and make a difference in the lives of others. With their presence, they reduce social isolation of seniors. With their talents, they get things done that need to be done each day for the well-being of people they serve.

During my talk, I ask the audience to reflect on a couple of questions that are helpful in starting an ethical will. They quietly write their individual responses for 5 - 10 minutes. Then I invite them to share their reflections with another person. Each time, a wonderful "buzz" of talk begins ... and grows ... and grows ... "buzzing" along until I have to bring their conversations to a close.

It's always a joy to see groups of seniors quickly get to the heart of what has been important in their lives. And most people are willing to generously share their life learnings with others at their table. So much wisdom in one room! Will our culture ever take time to hear what our elders have to say? Will we ever learn from their wisdom? Maybe, someday I'll be able to get two or three generations of people into the same room to listen. Just listen. And experience the wisdom of elders entering every heart in the room.

After my talk, the director of the program was inspiring with her words of encouragement to everyone in the room -- to honor our unique, one-of-a-kind selves by acknowledging and sharing our personal life legacy with others. Not to wait. Not to "think" that what each one of us has to say and do doesn't matter. She challenged us, saying: "Our children are not our future. We are creating the future for our children ... and our grandchildren ... 'til our last breath!" Bless you, Jean, for being an inspiration to me and so many others with your teaching and your life!

If you know people (over 60 years of age) who would like to be a companion to seniors and disabled adults in Lane County, I encourage you to contact the program at 683-8043. They have scheduled a training for new volunteers starting July 10th.

Here's a link for more information about the Senior Companion program:

Senior Companions

(NOTE: If your organization, church, or service group would like a program about personal legacies and ethical wills, please contact me via e-mail (click the "envelope" icon below or write to me at:
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