Monday, June 17, 2013

Board Gamers and Volunteering: a Perfect Match

A worker in a local hospital let our synagogue know about a guy who is going to be stuck there for the foreseeable future. He has no local friends and no family in Israel. We organized some volunteers to visit. After my initial visit to get to know the guy and to see what he might enjoy playing, my next visit was to play a game of Scrabble (without scoring points). He enjoyed it, though he's not particularly good at it, and we agreed to have me teach him Go on my next visit. If that doesn't work, I'll try a few other games until we find one that works for him.

Board gamers have skills that include enjoying meeting new people and playing, teaching, and arousing interest in board games. These skills are in high demand at your local hospital, nursing home, or other facility housing mentally alert people who are desperately lonely and bored.

You have probably wondered at some point what you can contribute to others that doesn't involve a great deal of money or time. You probably live very close to one of the above types of facilities.

Pick a few simple age-appropriate games and go for a visit. You can adopt one person - a child whose family can't be there all day, an adult who has no family in the area, an elderly person - or you can invite anyone who is willing to play (and not throw the pieces) to join you. The visit might require some basic coordination with the child's parents or the hospital staff.

An hour or two visit each week is almost effortless and can make a big difference in someone else's life. Even if the facility has internet access for each patient, there is no substitute for face-to-face contact. You get to play games and do something good at the same time.

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