Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

Trevor Henderson on making a difference as a volunteer

November 21, 2022

Value of a Volunteer: Trevor Henderson

Trevor Henderson is from Arizona but became a Heart2Heart volunteer while working a temporary job in South Florida this summer.

We asked him to define the Value of a Volunteer. Here’s what he had to say.

 

I spent about five months in Florida selling residential solar panels for a company called Kin Home. I found Heart2Heart through VolunteerMatch.com. I volunteered for pretty much all of that time.

Volunteer work is something I’ve always enjoyed doing. I’m a spiritual person, and that’s where I feel connected. I feel like I’m doing my part for the world.

I picked Heart2Heart because that was the most intimate of the volunteering options, since it involved actually being able to visit people.

My grandparents live close by in Arizona, and I visit them often. I know that elderly isolation is a big thing that happens, and it doesn’t get talked about or thought about. I’ve had that on my heart.

It’s cool that Heart2Heart is addressing that gap. I was happy to be part of it.

What was volunteering with Heart2Heart like?

I delivered Food for Hope meals every week to two homes.

One was to a couple, Rafael and Gloria. They invited me inside their home and were teaching me Spanish. Gloria didn’t speak any English. I brought her flowers once. They were both super excited to see me.

Being in Florida, I knew a couple people. It was nice for me to meet new people. I could be a friend to them, and they’re good friends to me.

I would hang out for about a half hour. They had me move the TV once.

It was just fun to hear about their lives. Rafael was in the military in Colombia. He’s been all over the world. I once asked about a collage of pictures in a frame. I got a huge life story that was exciting to hear. And I’m sure it was fun for him to tell it.

My other stop was to a man named Jim, who lived in an apartment. I would stand and talk at the door for a couple of minutes.

He was so excited to see me. I think I was probably the only person he saw the entire week, other than maybe a neighbor.

He was super cool. He was always in a positive mood. He loved playing the lottery. He would tell me about that and talk about the work he was doing on his truck. He needed special parts for it that he finally found on Ebay.

What is the value of a volunteer, in your opinion?

Volunteers can have value in many different ways. As far as my experience, I think it’s having that person to emotionally connect with, just to smile with. To have someone that specifically comes to visit them and bring something makes them super happy.

I think that makes a really big difference.

I don’t feel like I did that much, to be honest. But I could see a lot of value in saying “Hi. How are you?” The simple stuff makes a big difference.

What value do you receive as a volunteer?

Being in Florida, I knew a couple people. It was nice for me to meet new people. I could be a friend to them, and they’re good friends to me.

It was something I could look forward to, and I learned some Spanish. Rafael taught me to say, “You’re my Florida dad” in Spanish.

I felt good being able to do something for other people and make a positive impact in other people’s lives. I like those feelings. It makes me feel like I’m doing something important.

I’ve done other volunteer work before. I volunteered in a food kitchen. When I was 14 and 15, I did a service project where I helped widows clean their yards and did landscaping for them.

Going to people’s houses and sitting with them was a new type of volunteering for me. I enjoyed it.

What’s next for you?

I’m actually moving to Thailand. I’m taking advantage of remote work capabilities, and Thailand has a super cheap cost of living.

Plus, I love traveling.

Read more about:
Juan Gallo
Juan Gallo is the CEO of Heart2Heart Outreach, where he oversees the mobilization of volunteers to provide hope, share love and restore purpose to the lives of the aging population across South Florida.

He also serves as a local pastor and as an adjunct professor at Trinity International University, where he is teaching a course on diversity and aging. Juan has a master’s degree in counseling and psychology and is a licensed mental health counselor intern.

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