For six years, my daughter and I volunteered through a mother-daughter service organization. We had a dozen places throughout our community where we could volunteer together—from 7th grade through her senior year of high school.
Some of the philanthropies we helped out were Guide Dogs of the Desert, Angel View Crippled Children’s Homes, our swim team and the Braille Institute. We were required by the service organization—National Charity League—to put in a minimum number of volunteer hours per year.
One of the funnest and easiest things we’d do is show up at a nursing home and play BINGO with the elderly residents.
I never thought much of it. It was something we’d do occasionally on a Monday night. My daughter would show up with her hair wet from swim practice wearing a t-shirt and shorts. On a big night a half-dozen other girls and their moms would volunteer to get out BINGO cards, the cage and set up seven or eight tables for the residents.
The girls would cruise the hallways and peak into rooms and ask if the residents wanted to join us for BINGO. The regulars would be waiting for us in their wheelchairs for their weekly game.
How did BINGO become so popular? Who invented the game? Here’s a link to a brief history of BINGO.
I thought about what a difference it makes to the residents of that nursing home to have these young women escort them to BINGO. I never thought about it until last week—after visiting my mom in her assisted living home.
I took my Mom to BINGO for the second time this year. She’s had a blast both times. It got her out of her room. It engaged her mind. We had fun. She said “BINGO!” and won the first round. She had a smile on her face. She was excited to pick out prizes. She was interacting with other residents. Both times she’s promised to go back. But she never does. She’ll be sitting in her room again on Sunday at 1:15 p.m. in the dark, when she could be having another fun 45 minutes of stimulating her mind and getting exercise by walking down the hall and back using her walker.
I wish they had a group of young ladies that would peak into her room and plead for her to go.
When my daughter was pushing a complete stranger in his wheelchair into the game room on a random Monday night with NCL, I had no idea how much it meant. Not only for my daughter—to learn compassion and think outside of her own immediate needs and desires—but also how much it meant to that elderly person. To get out, interact with people and have a little fun.
I wish we didn’t live two states away. I miss my mom. It was so good to see her so happy playing BINGO.
Here’s another article about how BINGO and the intellectual benefits for elderly.