For my community service, I performed one major job. I played piano for the residents at the Longview Nursing Home. After the first week, we also ate cookies and drank punch together for a little while after I was done playing. If you had asked me a couple of years ago if I could ever imagine myself doing something like this, I would have thought you were crazy. I completed my piano playing during January and February of 2001. I made arrangements with Susan Lawful, director of the nursing home, to play songs every Tuesday and Thursday afternoon for two hours. Together with one of the residents, Mrs. Hilfer, I selected songs to play that the elderly citizens would enjoy and would be able to sing along with if they wanted to.
I made copies of the words to the songs, also. Their favorite song was (by far! ) “Pretty Baby. ” One of the men at the home liked that song so much that he danced along with the music every time we sang. Playing music was good for the residents and good for me. On a personal level, I developed a really great friendship with Mrs. Hilfer. I can honestly say that this is the first person I ever really made a friend with who is two generations away from me.
Also, with the rest of the people at the nursing home, it was always neat to see the smiles on their faces whenever I showed up to play. We were all a little nervous the first couple of times I did it, but by about the third time, they would wave and greet me with lots of “hi’s” right when I got there. Now, I feel connected with the people from the nursing home and I know I helped make them feel happier and not quite so lonely, at least for a little while. They are not just “people in a nursing home” to me now, they are Frank and Betty and Mrs. Hilfer.
Being a responsible citizen means being there for other people, not just looking out for yourself or for your friends. There is an endless variety of ways in which a person could be a responsible citizen: helping someone in need, keeping your city clean, serving on committees, coaching little kids in a sport, etc. But being responsible to me means reaching out past yourself to see what you can do. It’s more than just doing my job, because that’s what I am expected to do. It’s doing the unexpected to make our city, and even our country, a better place.
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