Meet the volunteer: Sahar Noor

Dec 19, 2023

Sahar, a healthcare student and passionate tennis player, joined In Great Company to combat the loneliness experienced by older people and found a genuine connection with Pam. Through her volunteer efforts, she has formed a friendship that transcends language and culture. Sahar highlights the importance of cultural sensitivity in volunteer programs, advocating for the profound impact it can have on enriching the lives of older individuals.

Tell us a little bit about yourself

I’m Sahar Noor, a college student majoring in Healthcare. I love playing tennis with friends. It’s a fantastic way for me to connect with people outside of school and have fun. In my leisure time, I also like to read books especially thriller and history books. I am part of a large family, so family is important to feel supported and connected.

What inspired you to choose volunteering with older seniors facing social isolation or loneliness?

I am motivated from personal experiences close to home. Having observed the effects of loneliness on my elderly family members and neighbours while growing up, I felt a strong desire to make a positive impact in this area. I also enjoy connecting with older individuals and hearing their life stories.

How did you hear about In Great Company?

I came across IGC through some online research and community outreach programs where I work. Joining the program was a smooth process from the beginning, and I’ve had a positive experience filled with great support and access to helpful resources.

Can you describe your senior client and what your visits look like?

I visit Pam, a delightful older person who enjoys my company as much as I enjoy hers. During our visits, we sometimes play board games, share stories, or simply enjoying a cup of tea together in her beautiful backyard garden.

Can you share a memorable moment or activity you’ve enjoyed with your client?

It was when we spent an afternoon reminiscing about Pam’s youth, looking at old photo albums, and sharing laughter over nostalgic stories. It was a heart-warming experience for me to hear and connect through her stories across generations, getting a glimpse of what life was like back in those days, and sharing in those memories and experiences together.

What makes the friendship meaningful or unique for you?

The friendship I’ve formed with Pam is meaningful because it goes beyond the surface. We have built a genuine connection based on trust, understanding, and mutual respect. I feel like we both contribute to each other’s lives; we are real friends who support each other.

Have there been any significant challenges or obstacles as a volunteer?

While the overall experience has been positive, there have been challenges, such as language barriers or concerns for her health. Overcoming these challenges has only strengthened the bond between us.

Have you gained any insights about yourself or others through this experience?

Through my volunteer experience, I’ve gained valuable insights into the resilience of the human spirit, the importance of empathy, and the profound impact of small gestures of kindness. It has been a journey of personal growth, teaching me patience, compassion, and the significance of human connection.

In your opinion, why is it important to volunteer by visiting older people in need of friendship?

Visiting older people in need of friendship is crucial because it addresses the often-overlooked issue of social isolation among seniors. The companionship offered through these volunteer efforts not only improves the mental and emotional well-being of the elderly but also contributes to building more connected and caring communities.

What are your thoughts on how cultural diversity impacts the experience of loneliness among older individuals, and how do you believe we can better address this issue within our volunteer program?

Cultural diversity can significantly impact the experience of loneliness among older individuals. It’s essential for volunteer programs to recognise and respect cultural differences, adapting activities, and approaches to be inclusive and culturally sensitive. This ensures that volunteers can effectively connect with seniors from diverse backgrounds, fostering a sense of belonging and understanding.

Do you have any words of encouragement or advice to those interested in joining this program?

Many of us will think “what can we do? I’m just one person”, but everyone says that! For those interested in joining this program, I would encourage you to take the leap. The impact you can have on the lives of older individuals is massive, and the personal growth and fulfilment you’ll experience are equally important. Approach each interaction with an open heart, a willingness to learn, and a genuine desire to make a positive difference in someone else’s life.

If you’d like to become a volunteer with In Great Company and make a senior’s life less lonely, apply here.