We love this story of a family whose loved one was somewhat resistant to attending one of our clubs at the beginning and within a short time became an Old Friends Club advocate. This email exchange among family members and our Executive Director is heartwarming.
Recently we received the following email from a grateful daughter whose father attends one of our programs.
"I haven't forgotten what a struggle it was to get my dad to accept OFC. We had some stressful and frustrating mornings. Your advice was that it would take time for him to "trust us". Now he does, and he goes willingly and happily 3 days a week. Your program is vital for both of my parents. Thank you!" - Daughter
Her father's case is not that unusual. Coming to the club is a change to one's "routine", at first. Change can be difficult and trying new things can feel intimidating. But like any habit, once you start and then regularly repeat an action, the activity simply becomes routine. That's not to say it isn't challenging in the beginning. It's like a New Year's resolution to go to the gym…it takes some will power and persistence, but the outcome is rewarding. Our Executive Director remembers our emailer's father and reminisces fondly in her response.
"Thank you for your note. It’s great to read that things are going for you and your family. Actually, your father's story is one of my favorites. I remember how he did everything he could to not get involved or enjoy himself for those first three weeks, sitting closed-off with his arms crossed and a scowl on his face. And then that day he cracked a joke and Joan hopped on the opportunity to connect and get him to open up.
Now they count on him to add some levity. He is the Ambassador-- the one who will get up to welcome people coming in the door or to help clear dishes after lunch. It’s clear he's accustomed to taking care of others.
I’m grateful that we’ve been able to make a positive difference for you and your family. Your father makes a positive impact on the group as well. It’s a win all around!" - Karen Koenig
Joan is one of our Program Coordinators. Each location has a Program Coordinator, along with a Program Assistant, and volunteers to engage members throughout their stay. Like Joan, all our Program Coordinators, are keen to pick up on cues to engage members and have them feel heard and respected. Sometimes it is knowing when a member needs help or encouragement with a project, or kudos on a specific behavior or accomplishment, or a subtle response to funny comment or joke. Old Friends Club's small group environment fosters inclusion and a close community.
The daughter shared the above email response with her brother (member's son) and mom (member's wife) to let them know that even though there were struggles early on, that his story was in fact, "reassurance that Dad is in a good place at OFC". The family's responses back to us are why we find what we do so important and fulfilling.
"This makes me feel great that dad is involved, not surprising he is the ambassador!" - Son
"Thank you. I don’t know what I would do without you." - Wife
These types of caregiver/member experiences are definitely a feel-good thing and demonstrates how hard it can be to get started sometimes. This true story is also a great reminder of how rewarding it is to persevere. With all things considered, it doesn’t take long for most people to feel comfortable and start looking forward to joining friends at the "Club".
Do you know a family who might benefit from joining Old Friends Club? Share this blog post, our OFC Facebook page, and our OFC website with them. They can contact us by phone or on our Old Friends Club Contact Us page.