I remember the day I received my acceptance letter to the University of Delaware’s Nursing program. Just like any other high school senior, I was anxious to move into my new dorm, excited to meet lots of new people and I really wondered if college courses were really 10X harder than high school, like my teachers told me they would be. While some of my classes were a lot harder than others, I felt that I was able to learn a lot and take away from each of them. Looking back, I can truly say that I would not have been able to predict that I would become the person that I am today…and much of my self-discovery came through my experience as a member of Lori’s Hands.
I first joined this great organization during my sophomore year as a way to earn community service hours. I really appreciated the up-close-and-personal experience that Lori’s Hands allows its volunteers to have with older adults that are living with chronic illnesses. After my first few visits to a client named Jean, I developed a keen interest in geriatrics and was sure I wanted to work with older adults in my future career. The stories she shared with me about her life before she experienced a stroke were so full of joy and happiness. It was very apparent to me that the unexpected stroke changed her life in ways that she couldn’t ever imagine. In her younger years, she worked as an elementary school teacher, which required lots of energy and enthusiasm for life. She also enjoyed gardening but now she is only able to manage a few potted plants that she often asks me to trim and water. It was the small chores that I could complete in 5 minutes that would probably take her an hour due to her disabled gait and limited range of motion that made me realize how difficult life can become for those suffering from a chronic illness.
A lot of older adults do not have assistance around the home and the fact that Lori’s Hands gives students the opportunity to learn about chronic illnesses while also making a difference in the lives of its clients has become the driving force behind my passion for the organization. Last year, I began to lose interest in clinical nursing and thought of ways in which I could have a larger impact in the field of healthcare delivery and administration. I took a great leap of faith and switched my major to Public Policy with a health-oriented focus. Ultimately, I aspire to help create efficient and inclusive health policies for all people and ensure that our ever-increasing older adult population is not overlooked.
I am both proud and honored to have been elected as the 2014-2015 President of Lori’s Hands. For this upcoming school year, I am looking forward to working alongside our other amazing officers and volunteers to continue to grow the organization and provide everyone involved with a fulfilling experience. I am also striving to build a greater sense of community among our volunteers and organize a few events that are open to the entire Newark community. I am thankful to Lori’s Hands for aiding me in my growth as a person, as I have learned a lot about myself through helping others. It has been a rewarding experience thus far and I am excited to help the organization expand and move forward. Onward!
Written by: Ashley Lewis