Alternative Winter Break 2016 Post AWB Blast from the Past – New Orleans 2012

By Sharon Schoenfeld
Sonia on AWB NOLA 2012 (2nd from r)

Today was our second full day volunteering, and since it was Christmas, naturally most volunteering locations were closed.

I went to go volunteer at the Woldenberg Retirement Home, where we were to meet the members, play “electronic bingo”, and listen to their stories. While walking around the home, talking to the citizens and wishing them a Merry Christmas, a woman in a wheelchair rolled up to us, and began telling us her story. She explained that she had been a nanny, and raised many children, but had had a stroke three months earlier, and been moved to Woldenberg.

The stroke had paralyzed the left side of her body, leaving her arm and leg immobile. The biggest impact she left on me, however, was not her story, but instead her small mention that she used to play piano. Because her left arm was paralyzed  she no longer could play. I realized that with her stroke, not only had her overall life changed, but the small aspects of her everyday life had changed as well.

Today’s trip to the Woldenberg Retirement Home changed my outlook on elderly people’s lives, and made me appreciate their stories that much more.

~ Sonia Garfinkel attends Smith College and was in the 11th grade when she wrote this article.

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