In the fall of 2017, our New York team was looking for a hyper-local organization to volunteer with within the boroughs of Manhattan. After some research, they came across the Encore Senior Center, located just a couple of blocks from the Lighthouse office. This particular senior center provides over 400,000 meals annually to seniors who visit the center as well as homebound seniors. The Encore Senior Center also provides daily exercise classes, technology 101 courses, social activities, and a senior match program, where volunteers can be paired with a senior to socialize and support them with daily activities. After the first volunteer engagement between the New York team and the Encore Senior Center, a partnership quickly and organically formed between the two groups.
In 2017, the team kicked off the partnership with a food drive for the senior center, where they donated canned and dry goods to the organization during the holiday season. This provided the center’s kitchen with additional supplies needed for the time of year. In the spring of 2018, the team wanted to start visiting the seniors in person, so they organized a day to help with the center’s meal packing and serving program. During the team’s time there, they were able to serve over 50 seniors and pack an additional 477 meals for the center’s Meals on Wheels program, designed to deliver packaged daily meals and drinks to homebound seniors. This program is particularly important, as it is also often the only socialization the homebound seniors receive in a given day.
In spring of 2019, the New York office continued its partnership with Encore and participated in another meal packing and plating event, in addition to providing a technology 101 class, where members of the team taught seniors basic email and applications for Android and IOS cellphones or tablets. The class also provided the seniors with some one-on-one time with the Lighthouse volunteers as the seniors navigated through the technology and learned how to stay in touch with their loved ones. It was during this visit that Kim Brown, Lighthouse Cares New York Office Liaison, learned the center was in need of an industrial can opener and that the folks in the kitchen had been using a knife to open industrial sized cans. The Encore kitchen produces over 5,000 meals a week and the industrial can opener would allow them to be safer and much more efficient in their overall process and program. Kim leveraged the Lighthouse Cares New York office-specific budget and procured the can opener for the folks at the senior center.
“Thank you for your heartfelt and thoughtful gift, the kitchen will greatly benefit from the can opener. Thank you for volunteering with us and for your support.” – Encore Volunteer Services Team Member
The team at the senior center was extremely appreciative and invited Lighthouse volunteers to attend one of their many social events, the December 2019 Birthday Party Social. The team gladly accepted the invitation and pitched in to help at the event by passing out snacks, facilitating the raffle, and dancing with the seniors. JP Morgan, an international investment banking company located near the senior center, has a knitting club that donated and wrapped several items for the events raffle. Sam Martinez, Review Solutions Technician at Lighthouse, moderated the raffle in both English and Spanish so that the seniors could participate. Additionally, the event included fun music and the seniors were dancing and taking some of the Lighthouse team members up on the dance floor with them. Overall, this event was a lot of fun for Lighthouse team members, as they were able to interact and bond with the seniors as well as give back.
This ongoing partnership with the Encore Senior Center, has been huge for the New York team at Lighthouse. They have found a cause and organization they truly care about and can easily volunteer at throughout the year. They feel more connected to the community and are eager to participate in more volunteer activities in the future.
To learn more about this story or to discover more about the Lighthouse Cares program, please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.