Creating Community

With all that has been happening in the nation, as well as the world these past few weeks, it is so easy to feel completely hopeless. I find myself asking “Am I doing enough?” more and more regularly. Even working the housing clinic can feel like I am not doing enough. But I think how a society treats their seniors says a lot about who the society is as a whole. How we help our most vulnerable dictates what our concerns in the world are. On days when I feel like I have not done enough, it is important for me to remember how much the seniors we serve have done and what they have experienced in their lives. So many of them have spent their lives as the caretakers of everyone around them and now it is our turn to take care of them.

It might not always feel like the most glamorous job in the world, and it might sometimes feel like we aren’t doing enough for our society, but if we do not take care of the seniors in our community after they have given so much of themselves for us and have lived through so much then what does that say about as a whole?

With all of these things on my mind, I found myself attending a collaborative meeting with other senior care providers as a part of St. Mary’s Fall Prevention Week programming. One of the service providers at the meeting spoke about a trip she went on to Cuba to learn about how they care for their seniors. She said that there were daily exercise classes in town squares and that the seniors were extremely social amongst each other. Aging can be an extremely lonely process. It happens to everyone, yet it is something that we do not have to do on our own. Community centers like St. Mary’s Center creates a space in which seniors can sit and play dominoes together, or chat while drinking their morning coffee, or encourage each other during chair exercise classes.

As I ponder whether or not I am doing enough, I have realized that St. Mary’s Center simply cannot “do” enough… but just as I am committed to the idea that we should not age alone, I am more convinced that we should not provide care alone. The work that St. Mary’s Center does becomes enough in concert with the care that our sister organizations also provide. When we collaborate across the Bay Area, we can help take care of our elders more ethically and more holistically.

And so I love working at St. Mary’s Center because I do feel like we are doing our part as well as we can. I love talking to the seniors and hearing about all of their lives. I love hearing the slamming of the dominos every morning (it’s a pretty big deal here). I love that we are helping to build communities of care and compassion because St. Mary’s Center provides a safe place for seniors to relax and not have to worry for a couple of hours.

It might not seem like a lot, but today I think it’s enough.

Claire is the 2016-17 XPLOR intern with our Resources for the Third Age program. During her time with us, she will be writing a weekly blog on her experiences with St. Mary's Center including insights into our programming, interviews with clients, and more. To see all of her posts, check out our XPLOR tag

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