Meet Nicole! Nicole began volunteering with Manny Cantor Center as a Lunch Service volunteer for the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living Senior Center. When we had to close our programs and transition to virtual opportunities, Nicole was one of the first volunteers to offer to help, and became our first Community Connection Caller. Nicole now helps make weekly phone calls to older adults who are feeling socially isolated during this time. We are so appreciative of volunteers like Nicole who have stepped up during these difficult times to give their time to connect with fellow New Yorkers.
1. Which volunteer opportunities are you a part of at MCC?
I am currently making weekly calls with some older adults who visit MCC to check-in and see how they are doing, which is a nice social diversion for me as well. Prior to the shelter-in-place order, I helped to serve lunch at the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living, which I look forward to doing again in the future.
2. What brought you to volunteering at MCC and how has your experience been?
I wanted to get back to volunteering and this seemed like it would be a fun opportunity! Volunteering reminds me why I changed careers to go into medicine, so it is fulfilling on several levels. The experience has been great because the people are interesting (staff and guests alike) and I get to see the benefit to others which is gratifying. I also love seeing all the different people from LES because I still think it’s amazing and unique, even as a life-long New Yorker. And now, it reminds me of the sense of community in New York that will help us recover once this is all over.
3. Why do you think the Connection Caller opportunity is important during this time of social distancing?
Social distancing can be isolating and incredibly lonely; and the fears associated with COVID-19 can intensify those feelings. It is important for people to know that someone cares about them, that they matter. It’s also important to check they have what they need and are ok health-wise. Thankfully it seems people are doing well besides being a little stir-crazy. Plus, I enjoy making these calls and find them helpful for me as well!
4. How do you plan to stay connected to your community during this time of social distancing?
I call people (more than ever before), FaceTime and still text a lot. The new thing I do is weekly viewing parties where I put people on speakerphone and we watch a movie or a show together. Sometimes we heckle, other times not- it’s all in good fun. And I have been making masks for frontline workers and others and mailing them out.
5. What is your favorite at home self-care activity you have been practicing?
I have been doing a lot of crafting: sewing, building stuff, making things. I love keeping busy and find joy in problem-solving. And I’ve been trying to do some quieter exercises like using furniture gliders which helps me stay active. Otherwise a beauty mask is always a nice treat!
As a changemaker, volunteers are part of a movement of engaged New Yorkers taking action to strengthen Lower East Side and beyond. Our spotlight series provides an opportunity to share the stories of why community members get involved, what they gain from the experience, and the impact they are able to make at the Manny Cantor Center and in the community. Thank you to all who choose to come through our doors to help build the neighborhood we want to live in. If you are interested in volunteering or getting involved with us here at Manny Cantor Center, we have opportunities available for a variety of schedules and interests. Learn more about being a Volunteer Changemaker at MCC here. If you or someone you know would like to be the recipient of a connection call, email us at [email protected].