Sarah Lawrence Hillel student Camryn Hellwarth talks about her volunteer experience with Dorot

I grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania, where the lack of a strong Jewish community made it hard for me to find connections with my heritage. Now that I am a first year student at Sarah Lawrence College, I am so excited to be able to get involved with the Hillel group, and to be a part of the community I was always looking for. Before learning about the Dorot program, I had never thought that visiting homebound senior citizens would be the type of community service that I would be excited to get involved with. I am usually a shy person, but when the opportunity arose at the Day of Chesed community fair, I felt that it was the perfect time to experience this new Mitzvah. The nervousness I have when meeting new people was soon replaced with excitement during my visits as introductions were made and stories were shared.

 Riana, a programming associate for the Hillels of Westchester, was experienced in this type of community service, and came with me as we visited the homes of three different people. At each home, we delivered grape juice, canned food, a tzedakah box, and Shabbat candles. The first woman we visited told us about her family, and brought up some current issues that she had read about in the newspaper. It was great to see that she was so happy to have us, and the success of our first visit made me even more excited for the rest of the day. Our next stop was to the home of a man who lived with his daughter. When they learned that we were from Hillel, the man and his daughter told us of their family history, and how he is related to the famous Dizengof family in Tel Aviv. Even though he had never had a chance to visit, Riana had been to Tel Aviv recently, and she emailed them her pictures of Dizegof Street and Dizengof Center later that week so that they could experience it for themselves.  This visit showed me the endless possibilities in people you can meet and stories you can learn through visits of the Dorot program. On this normal Saturday afternoon, I had ended up meeting a descendant of the first doctor in Israel!

 The last home we went to was that of a woman, who was wheelchair bound, and her husband, who was very dedicated to her well-being and enthusiastic about taking care of her. He gave us a tour of their home, and showed us some of the improvements he had made to help accommodate his wife’s mobility. His wife’s artwork was spread across the dining room table, and she showed us the pictures that she works on with her therapist. The couple’s positive outlook on life was inspiring, and they graciously welcomed up into their home. By the end of the visit, they both seemed eager to receive more visitors from the Dorot program. All of these different conversations gave me a chance to learn about these peoples’ lives and to see the world from their point of view. This provided me with a new perspective, and gave me a renewed appreciation for the elders that are still a part of my life. Although my first visits were only thirty minutes long, it was easy to get a sense of the strong relationships that can form through the many connections that Dorot provides, and I am looking into volunteering with Dorot in Westchester regularly.

 

 

 

 

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