Ruffa Elaine Espejon volunteers with MCC’s Senior Advocacy Leadership Team, working with senior activists on a variety advocacy projects that empower older adults on the Lower East Side to use their voice to make change. Read about her experience in her own words:
“I started after I heard about my aunt’s experience volunteering with the Senior Advocacy Leadership Team (SALT). She had only great things to say about it. As a member of SALT I feel very gratified. In my current line of work, I feel that I have the ability to do more for the community, and this is one of my outlets for just that. I also enjoy the camaraderie between the group members and myself. It’s very pleasant to be around them. To me, volunteering means doing something that someone else can benefit from; making laws and lives better, despite yourself.”
Ruffa participated with her Aunt Sheila (a member of SALT) in a Lobby day in Albany for the Census 2020 as a representative of Manny Cantor Center Volunteers. Why did you participate in the lobby day? And, what was the experience like?
“I have always felt that until one exhausts all their options, they did not do their best. As arbitrary as that might seem, it’s crucial to do the utmost as a civilian for one’s community. The lobby day was crucial in that people directly told their representatives about their concerns and I wanted to be a part of it. I believe that, that was one of the best ways I could do my utmost to help my community. It felt like I was a part of something larger than me and I enjoyed it immensely. I loved being there with like-minded people who represented underrepresented groups of people.
Margaret and Helaine have been volunteering at the Weinberg Center for Balanced Living as Dining Room Coordinators for our meal program since the launch of More Hands, More Hearts, More Voices. They give over 1000 hours each, every year, and are integral to the program’s success, doing everything from welcoming clients, organizing volunteers, making sure everyone gets food, and so much more. Read about their experiences in their own words:
Margaret: “I started volunteering because Why not? I was retired and someone told me about the center. My favorite part of volunteering is greeting people, talking to them, having an activity that you look forward to in the morning.
Giving back to the community and interacting with really great people, everyone here is great. I love it!
Volunteering to me means looking forward to something in the day, doing something I really like that I enjoy and feel good about doing. You can’t explain it in words, it’s such a joy.
Fun fact about myself is that I love to dance!”
Helaine: “I started volunteering when I became retired, I used to come to lunches before this center was renovated and I wanted to get involved more. My favorite part about volunteering is serving people food, and hearing their appreciation for that. Love volunteering here! To me, volunteering means feeling useful, feeling happy that I am serving others and myself. It’s a big deal to volunteer, a deal that you like doing.
Fun fact about myself is that I have lived in New York my whole life, first Brooklyn and now in Manhattan.”
Volunteers are integral to the work we do at Manny Cantor Center, our spotlight series provides an opportunity to share the stories of why community members volunteer, what they gain from the experience, and the impact they are able to make. Since it is National Volunteer Week, we decided to spotlight three volunteers this month. We are so thankful to all who choose to come through our doors to help build the community we want to live in, and are thrilled to celebrate you this week, and every day.
Volunteers are integral to the work we do at Manny Cantor Center, our spotlight series provides an opportunity to share the stories of why community members volunteer, what they gain from the experience, and the impact they are able to make. Thank you to all who choose to come through our doors to help build the community we want to live in.
If you are interested in volunteering with us here at Manny Cantor Center, we have opportunities available for a variety of schedules and interests. Learn more about serving at MCC here.