Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Beautiful Day

On a sunny Friday last spring, a visiting caterer’s dripping oil started a tennis ball-size fire in the SCS kitchen. Adrenaline surged through my veins as I ran down the hallways evacuating everyone, and later talked to the fire fighters, the caterers, the other building tenants, my staff, and my supervisors. Within two minutes, the fire was a small pile of soot, workers and senior clients were waiting safely in a parking lot across the street, and a thick covering of flame retardant blanketing the kitchen like an expansive, grey snowdrift.

After the fire department cleared the building for re-entry, we began escorting Adult Day Care clients back to their exercises and activities inside the building. I held Mrs. S’s elbow as I helped her across the street, my mind a thousand miles away on emergency procedures and clean-up and the trip I was scheduled to leave on that afternoon. I was cranky, but Mrs. S walked next to me with a smile on her face. Finally, as we approached the building, she said out loud, “Look how beautiful this day is! If it wasn’t for that fire, none of us would have seen the sunshine.” Ripped out of my anxious reverie, I almost stopped short in the middle of the road. Mrs. S was right! On one of the first sunny, breezy days of spring, I had trudged into work with my head down, spent all day in an air-conditioned, office with my back to the window, and planned to trudge right back out. It would have been nighttime before I realized the day had passed.

Every program of Senior Citizen Services focuses on older adults, and on our mission to enable them to enjoy a high quality of life without sacrificing their independence or dignity. In doing this, we also build communities and support relationships. Meals On Wheels Atlanta clients receive life-sustaining nutrition support, but the staff and volunteer drivers who make the deliveries are just as sustained by the relationships they nurture. HOMES clients are kept safer, drier, or warmer by the repairs provided by groups of volunteers, but nearly every volunteer group has one or two people who sit and listen to the client’s stories for hours during the project.

Older Atlantans need the services SCS provides to sustain their homes and their health; volunteers need the older Atlantans to sustain their lives. Nurturing communities allows us to stop and look up at the sun, or at a senior’s face, to remember why we’re here. It’s easy to get lost in the smoke, but the joy comes from seeing the sunshine.

No comments: