Robert Cole, our Volunteer of the Month for September, leads thought-provoking conversations about God with seniors in local care centers.
He uses a program called Alpha, designed to create a safe space for people to ask questions and voice their opinions about God, faith and the meaning of life.
So far, Robert has led the 10-week series in three different care centers. Those include Presidential Place in Hollywood, Independence Hall in Fort Lauderdale and, most recently, Grand Villa in Deerfield Beach.
“I’ve enjoyed it a lot,” Robert said. “The Alpha films are really well done. They flow well and meet people where they are.”
The films were designed with younger people in mind, especially those with little knowledge or a deep skepticism about God. Many of the seniors in Robert’s groups agree with the broad Christian principles introduced in the series.
So Robert modifies the discussions into something more like a Bible study. Most recently, the group at Grand Villa explored scriptures that create the basis for having faith in God.
The discussion emboldened a woman to voice her struggles. In response, the group spent time praying over her.
“We were able to remind her that even on a bad day, God holds her in his right hand, and she’s not totally isolated,” Robert said.
The woman felt better as she left, he said. Encouraging one person uplifts everyone else in the group.
“That’s one of the things I love the most about it is forming those one-on-one connections,” Robert said. “You get to know everybody’s name and connect to see how they are doing.”
Themes of loneliness, isolation and interpersonal conflict come up again and again in care centers, Robert explained. It helps seniors to refocus on spiritual truths like forgiveness and God’s love for us.
Usually about five to 10 people come to watch the Alpha videos and participate in the discussion questions that follow. Some weeks, the conversation flows easily. Other weeks, the group is quiet.
Robert first discovered Heart2Heart through Riverside Church, where he attends. The retired physician said he had a desire to serve because of his own parents, who suffered from Alzheimer’s disease.
“I saw from personal family experiences the benefit of having people who are willing to walk alongside seniors during the more difficult times of life,” he said.
Robert is planning to start a new Alpha group at a care center in Coconut Creek next.
“It’s wonderful interacting with people,” he said. “It’s fruitful for me, and I hope it’s a blessing for them too.”
Thank you, Robert, for caring for the spiritual well being of South Florida seniors!