Topics on Aging

By Juan Gallo

Ally Harrington on prioritizing invaluable volunteer work

November 7, 2022

Ally Harrington on prioritizing invaluable volunteer work

Ally Harrington has been a Heart2Heart volunteer since 2020. Recently, she began working for another local organization who also recruits volunteers in the community.

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

I would say a volunteer is invaluable. For a volunteer to go and spend time with someone, I just think that’s priceless.

Recently, I’ve been visiting with my senior friend. Her name is (also) Aly, and she’s 81 years young.

She had a friend who recently passed away that lived in her complex. It’s been really hard for her because the friend would come and eat dinner with her.

Four months ago, Heart2Heart reached out to me to ask if I would mind checking on a senior. They gave me Aly’s name, and I called her. We talked a couple times on the phone before I asked if I could come for a visit.

When you have a dedicated volunteer, that person intentionally sets time aside on their calendar. And spending a little bit of time together, showing interest, showing that you care — it makes a difference.

I wanted to see what she likes to do. We walked a little bit and then I took her to lunch. Another time, I brought a friend and we had dinner, just so she could meet more people.

I want to build her a Team Aly — others who will check on her. I asked her if my friend could call and talk to her. She said, “Yeah, absolutely!” She’s game for anything!

Aly has a niece who lives in Colorado, but no other family.

Now I talk to her niece too. I sent her a couple of pictures. She tells me about her aunt, like where she grew up, so when I visit, I have more information.

Her niece is overwhelmed with joy that someone else is reaching out to her aunt. It just warms my heart.

What are other ways have you volunteered?

I started volunteering with Heart2Heart before COVID. I did a lot of behind-the-scenes stuff. I made cards and tie blankets. That’s been really fun. I started delivering food to a couple of homes through Food for Hope.

What do you think is the difference between a volunteer and a paid employee?

I recently got a new job. I work next door to Heart2Heart, as an administrative assistant at 4Kids.

Sometimes, I feel like I’m still a volunteer. I think, “Wow, I get paid to do this!”

But the freedom the volunteer has is different. As staff, we kind of get busy in the day-to-day minutiae. So we can miss out on the opportunity of just being there with the person.

When you have a dedicated volunteer, that person intentionally sets time aside on their calendar. And spending a little bit of time together, showing interest, showing that you care — it makes a difference.

What value do you receive as a volunteer?

If you know the Lord, you’re saved to serve. That’s what Jesus did. He served, so we serve, too.

Most people won’t realize this, but you’re filled up when you help others. Your spirit’s filled up. You just get joy from it.

Being able to help someone else who can’t help themselves is just wonderful.

What makes your experience with Heart2Heart valuable?

Well, I like that they specifically help seniors. The Bible says to take care of orphans and widows (James 1:27).

->Of course, they’re not all widows. But I feel like they could be orphans, if they don’t have family. That’s a big deal in South Florida.

>Sometimes you need help, even with something like yard work, which gets difficult as you get older.

How do you find balance between volunteering and a fulltime job?

You’ve got to be able to say “no.” The Bible says that too, “let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’” (Matthew 5:37).

I want to do it all. And I want to make a difference, but I know I can’t always.

That’s why I recruit my friends. I think, if one person can do one thing, I can get more people involved, and we can help more people.

Heart2Heart staff know they can call me. I look at my calendar and tell them if I can’t. But if there’s not anything going on, then yeah: I could do a delivery on Saturday.

What can volunteers do to bring more value to the place they serve?

Personally, I say: tell your friends. We never have enough volunteers. I think there’s so much room for our volunteer team to grow.

As a volunteer, I wear my shirts. We can be a billboard to get other people involved.

Heart2Heart is a great ministry. I think people are willing. They just maybe don’t know about it.

As volunteers, we can be great spokespeople and just get the word out.

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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Juan Gallo

This blog is a frank conversation about what it means to age in our society.

I want us to consider what a wider range of diverse experiences when we talk about aging. I want to reflect on how we, as a community, want our neighbors and our mothers and fathers and our grandparents to live out their latter decades of life. I want us to consider each one of their voices as we strive to meet their needs.

Join me for weekly discussions about what it means to be a senior in South Florida and how we can and should respond to the growing needs of the aging population.

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