Nishka Ayyar is an avid volunteer with a number of organizations, including the Nike Animal Rescue Foundation and Sunday Friends, but the cause nearest and dearest to her heart is serving the elderly in her community. In 2015, she launched Music Buddies, which places student volunteers in retirement communities and nursing homes to provide fun, engaging performances for seniors. Nishka is today’s Daily Point of Light, and Points of Light spoke to her about how volunteering allows her to share her love of music and honor her grandparents.
Describe your volunteer role.
As founder of Music Buddies, I manage all aspects of the program – from contacting the senior centers and scheduling performances to reaching out to student performers and enlisting them to perform. Additionally, I also maintain the website, upload photos and videos of the performances and emcee all the performances including any interactions we have with the seniors.
What inspired you to give back?
Service to the community is a big focus within my family. My mother [left an executive position] in a Fortune 500 company to lead a nonprofit organization. She often took my sister and me along with her on service learning trips to work with marginalized communities. From a very young age, we experienced first-hand the impact of giving back.
Inspired by my love and deep respect for my grandparents, I started Music Buddies in 2015. My four grandparents have been with me since I was born, and each of them have enjoyed and encouraged my sister and me to pursue the arts. Unabashedly, they clapped and cheered for me even when my clarinet squeaked or I missed the beat with my dance steps. Their encouragement and love created a unique connection between us every time I performed, making me realize the enormous therapeutic value of music and the benefits of this inter-generation connection. I felt compelled to bring this connection and joy to others who didn’t have the opportunity to experience them like my grandparents and I did.
What is the most important lesson you’ve learned through your experience as a volunteer?
In the last few years, especially through my experiences with Music Buddies, I have learned that volunteering benefits not just the [people being served] – but the volunteers as well. Every time I have volunteered in a senior center and spent time with the older adults, I have come back more cheerful, confident, and caring. Although the seniors thank me profusely for spending time with them, I feel I benefit just as much!
Why do you think it’s important for other people to volunteer?
I believe volunteering is important for everyone but especially for young kids like myself, it is a wonderful way to engage with the community, to interact with a wide spectrum of people, and become aware of issues within [the] community. It [helps us] to think beyond our own needs and problems and become more selfless.
Do you want to make a difference in your community like Nishka? Visit All For Good to learn about local volunteer opportunities.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.