This article was written by Elizabeth Folberth from Gramatan Village in Bronxville.
Teresa McAleenan and Liam Sapon are living proof that anyone--at any age--can contribute as a volunteer for . Both are involved with helping older community members become more connected—both in person and through technology.
Teresa McAleenan, who has a master’s in pastoral counseling, believes in the healing power of conversation. She has been making friendly phone calls and going on recent Gramatan Village outings—to a Greek restaurant and shopping at Ridge Hill,—spending time getting to know the members.
“Teresa is a very gentle soul,” said Julie Dalton, Gramatan Village’s Executive Director. “She knows how to engage with members and takes an interest in them.”
“There is wisdom in a life well-lived,” said Teresa. “It’s a privilege to converse with someone on a deeper level and show them respect and the body slows down but the mind is still active; conversation can be energizing. We can laugh and have a good time. But there’s nothing more powerful than listening. I always feel I come away with something, that I’ve gained something.”
This summer Liam Sapon, a rising junior who is comfortable navigating today’s fast-changing world of technology, has spent several days a week as an intern in the Gramatan Village office or going to members’ homes to help them learn how to use their computers, digital cameras, cell phones and iPads.
“Some of our members have taken the big leap to becoming computer savvy, and Liam has been so supportive, kind and patient, teaching them the basics,” said Julie Dalton “One of our members recently told me that he’s helped open up a new world for her, just by getting the New York Times on her computer.” Liam has also been invaluable in setting up Facebook and Twitter accounts for Gramatan Village, “helping us reach a wider audience, primarily the children of potential members,” Julie added.
“The experience has been really rewarding,” said Liam who continued that, “it feels good to be helping out.”
Liam will continue his work into the fall. On Sept. 13, he will hold another “Ask Liam” session, where members are invited to bring in their digital devices for hands-on help.
For more information on the various opportunities for volunteer work with Gramatan Village, contact Julie Dalton at 914-337-1338 or at Julie.Dalton@GramatanVillage.org. or visit them at gramatanvillage.org.