By Nicole Lance
This summer my daughter, a high school senior, left comfort in California in order to “do good” and have an adventure by volunteering at ADI Negev – Nahalat Eran. For about a month, she worked five full days per week, assisting staff with the care of severely disabled residents. During her days off and evenings, Isabella relaxed, cooked and spent time with fellow volunteers, and occasionally she went on field trips and socialized with staff. Having visited a few years back, our family was confident that a more significant volunteer experience this summer would resonate. Boy, did it.
There are, of course, the intangible benefits of volunteering like, for example, experiencing the joy that comes with making someone who suffers happy, or at least more comfortable. Volunteering also imparted to my daughter valuable life lessons like:
- perspective and gratitude. Bearing witness to people who lack basic freedom reminds us of the blessings of physical and mental health;
- overcoming discomfort when presented with what can be difficult new situations, e.g. how residents with severe physical and mental limitations eat and move;
- learning to live, work and communicate with people who are different than you, e.g. fellow volunteers who come from all over the world, with different life experiences and speaking other languages;
- experiencing first hand that self-esteem comes not from being told one is great but rather from being capable. Volunteers are trained how to be capable caretakers.
Most parents want the best for their kids. They want them to find purpose in life, to be resilient and to have a healthy perspective. If that sounds like you, consider talking to your high school or college-age child about whether volunteering at ADI Negev – Nahalat Eran is the right fit. A good way to learn more is by watching a TED talk by the founder, Doron Almog, and by contacting the volunteer coordinator through the website.
N.B Picture of Nicole at ADI Negev – Nahalat Eran in between two co-workers of ADI.