An Intergenerational Flood Cleanup

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Mrs. H’s basement before

Age-In-Place® coordinates volunteers to complete yard work, housecleaning and minor paint jobs for Washington DC older adults so that they can remain more safely at home.  This month Age-In-Place® staff had the chance to work with some stellar (and ready for anything!) volunteers from Connecticut.

The project we had set up for the day was a bit outside our norm.  When I called Mrs. H earlier that week to see if she needed cleaning, she told me “You are just in time! I have just had a flood in the basement, and I need help cleaning everything up!”  Not knowing quite what to expect, I explained the situation to our high school volunteers during the orientation.  Instead of shying away from the challenge, several of them volunteered to go and help Mrs. H.  ‘We have experience with floods,’ they told me.

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Order returns to the basement

The group was from Fairfield, Connecticut, an area that had been heavily affected by Hurricane Sandy just a few months earlier.  One volunteer explained how they had gutted his entire basement when it flooded during the storm, and several others had friends and neighbors whose homes had been completely destroyed.  When we arrived at Mrs. H’s house, we were relieved to discover that all of the water had been cleared out of the basement already.

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Ingrid, far left, with Mrs. H. and volunteers from Connecticut

The volunteers shared their own flood stories with Mrs. H while they helped her to reorganize all of her stored items and check for any damage.  As they worked, the students learned that Mrs. H was no stranger to floods herself.  Originally 100_0521
from New Orleans, she had been devastated to learn that the vibrant city she once knew had become a ghost town after Hurricane Katrina.  Mrs. H shared pictures of her family’s home and told stories of how much she loved the city in which she grew up. It was a great day of shared experiences as well as accomplishing a clean As our volunteers learned with Mrs. H, you never know what you will get in return when you give back!

Ingrid Heiberg is a one year Trinity volunteer working with Seabury’s Age-In-Place program as its volunteer coordinator.  For more information on volunteering with Age-In-Place which coordinates volunteers to do yard work and housecleaning projects so that older adults can stay more safely at home, call Ingrid at (202) 635-9384 or email her at IHeiberg@seaburyresources.org

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