Join Hands Day is a national volunteer day that brings young people and adults together to begin a year-round process of relationship building and make great contributions to your community. Youths and adults work together on an equal basis to plan, organize and implement the day’s activities (American Fraternal Alliance). This year Join Hands Day falls on Saturday May 7th.
Unfortunately I will not be able to participate in an activity this day. However, knowing this, we did recently take our senior high youth group to an assisted living facility for a couple hours on a Sunday evening. The youth did not necessarily work with the seniors, but they did spend time with them in conversation, playing card games and playing music on the piano. I have to admit many of them were less than thrilled to be spending time on a beautiful Sunday with old people. But I feel this was a good experience for all of us. I was taught how to play a game of Skip-Bo, and let me tell you, these ladies take their Skip-Bo VERY seriously. It was nice sharing stories with them and them with us. One of our young ladies is a talented pianist and the residents loved hearing her play. The joy it brought them and the memories it stirred within them when she played and they talked about it made their faces light up like a kid in a candy shop. It was good for the kids to see that even with such a huge age difference they had things in common.
The seniors enjoyed our visit and asked us to come back, which I believe many of us will, whether it is as a group again or individually on our own time. Aside from this visit to the nursing home, our youth groups have been on many mission trips locally, within the state, within the country and out of country over the years. On many of these trips the work being done is along with or for older adults. This allows the adults to share their talents, stories and even mentor to the kids. Even though they are going to do physical labor to help a community in need, the physical work is not what they remember the most. The relationships they create with the people they are helping, the life lessons learned from them and the impact they have made on communities and families by volunteering their time and giving of themselves is what they will carry with them forever. These are life changing experiences that will change them forever and help them as they grow into adulthood.