Ageism against older adults is something that we have learned through society. Looking at an older person wanting to do something that we believe is out of their capacity because they are old is simply feeding into the concept. I have found someone in the community who really represents the meaning of anti-ageism and that is Jennifer Baker.
Jennifer is an amazing person who currently helps run the Sanford Center for Aging Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP). RSVP was designed to help older adults get around to wherever they need to go in order to allow them time out of their homes. They also socialize through voluntarism. This effort to try and eliminate mobility challenges has a big impact on how older adults live their lives.
I would like to recognize Jennifer because she has really pushed to make this program very welcoming and gave me the opportunity, through my service-learning course, to experience how rewarding volunteering in the community is. My service-learning group decided to organize an event in partnership with another organization named Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI).
Partnering with another organization allowed us to demonstrate the variety of programs that OLLI has to offer and to introduce older adults to each other. During the process of organizing the event, Jennifer was consistently meeting with us to discuss everything we could possibly include in our event. She introduced us to new people in the community who frequently volunteer and introduced us different resources that we could use. She even helped set everything up the morning of the event.
During the event, we watched and listened to our presenters, one of those being Jennifer, and learned how we're impacted by the older population. Jennifer convinced and encouraged a few of my classmates to share their experiences with driving some of RSVP's participants. There was even a music show with one of my group partners and a community volunteer Jennifer introduced us to.
Jennifer really motivated us to strive beyond our own expectations and consider the fact that we won’t be judged, but encouraged by the older adults, to speak to the crowd with confidence. After the presentations and singalongs, we split up into different tables based on interest. I sat alongside Jennifer at the health and wellness table and listened to her lead our table through discussions about why we chose the tables we did. Jennifer always has a warm and welcoming way about her, and I noticed many of the people sitting at the table being very open about sharing their thoughts and ideas. After the discussions, we ended the event with a big thanks to the people who made it possible, and everyone who came. To see everything come to life just the way we had hoped was an amazing experience and something that I had never experienced before.
Throughout my entire experience, Jennifer introduced me to a variety of people who have honestly made me even more motivated to continue volunteering. Jennifer always had creative ideas that we could implement and always encouraged us to step out of our comfort zone in order to grow more as individuals. I don’t believe that we could have pulled off this event without her.
Jennifer truly understands the difficulties that may come with old age and the way that the rest of society can help make life easier for those older adults. Jennifer’s passion for serving the community has inspired me greatly to try and do more for our older community and defeat the concept of ageism.