The Growing In-Home Volunteer Effort (GIVE) program provides in-home support for frail seniors and disabled people of all ages. Its volunteers are 18 years and older and provide shopping assistance, transportation, friendly visits and respite care in addition to yard work and light meal preparation.
Leela Shankar is a GIVE volunteer and accepts a variety of responsibilities. Shankar performs multiple tasks to enhance the lives of others. She provided approximately 1,000 hours of service last year, which would translate to $14,830 worth of assistance to those in need.
A homebound senior with Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease and a broken hip was one recipient of Shankar’s service. She ran errands, provided year around lawn care, (even planted a garden of vegetables and flowers for the senior’s dining and viewing pleasure), and made regular trips to visit the woman when she was hospitalized.
Shankar spends 10 hours a week with a Davenport college and a Western Michigan University student. They are both visually impaired and need her assistance to continue with their studies effectively. She reads course work, researches the internet, writes checks to pay bills, prepares them for taking tests and provides additional assistance as needed. She also helped a senior who is legally blind by reading her mail, writing checks for her, mailing her bills, organizing her home, setting up computer applications and occasionally running errands. Pet and house sitting while the owner is out of town has been another volunteer experience that Shankar offered when that assistance was needed.
Recipients of Shankar’s volunteer assistance live more comfortably because of her efforts. The students who are blind and studying to become professionals would not be able to afford the services that Shankar provides for free. They believe her assistance is very important to their future academic success.
The senior who is legally blind needed her computer to provide music education for elementary school children. After purchasing the Macintosh, she realized continual programming assistance would be needed because of her failing vision. It was not used until Shankar began to make weekly visits and provide regular computer assistance. The pleased recipient was then able to continue her volunteer work teaching children music appreciation.
Shankar, a doctoral student, is from India and has been in the United States for 10 years. Despite major cultural differences and the time and energy required of a student, she found the means to be of service to others. She has compassion for those in need and a strong desire to help overcome any obstacles she encountered. Shankar feels her volunteer experiences have positively influenced her life and that each volunteer experience is a valuable and useful tool that she can utilize when returning to India.