What started as a small way for Xavier student Nina Rawal to give back to the community has blossomed into a successful program that helps seniors and neighbors stay connected.
With the help of fellow students, Rawal started Caring About Seniors in spring 2020 and set out on the ultimate mission of comforting others by writing letters to isolated seniors, making masks, baking and fundraising.
Over the last school year and into this summer, Rawal’s venture has continued, with the group now focused more on recovery efforts. Over 200 volunteers, made up of students and community members, have stepped up to lend a hand by writing letters, baking and donating.
“Financial support for our group and nursing homes remains an important issue and is a priority for us,” Rawal said. “Our care homes went through a lot of hardships last year, and my focus is on raising finances to assist them while keeping our previous projects, such as pen pal letters, thriving.”
As part of the program’s commitment to helping the community, Caring About Seniors has also pledged to provide durable medical equipment to seniors with an ongoing need for walkers and wheelchairs.
One of the organization’s achievements this year was raising $8,000 for the Phoenix Cancer Support Network and a separate nonprofit that donates wheelchairs and walkers to seniors. The group also planned a vendor fair with local physicians and pharmaceutical companies in the Valley.
“We worked together with the physicians who donated their time and efforts and reached out to pharmaceutical companies to donate funds for Phoenix Cancer Support Network to use for transportation, medication co-pays, shelter, wheelchairs and walkers.”
The group’s fundraising efforts include an upcoming bake sale to benefit local nursing homes and an ongoing book/CD drive to collect indoor entertainment for seniors. Rawal says these fundraisers and regular visits to nursing home residents make all the work worthwhile, especially seeing their smiles.
“Our volunteers have commented on letters the seniors write back to them, which are sweet and thankful,” Rawal said. “I love knowing that this is making a difference in seniors’ lives. It is a truly gratifying experience.”
Rawal plans to set up another vendor fair in August and will continue the letter-writing program. “It has proven to be very effective in lifting our seniors’ spirits and in keeping them involved with the outside world,” she said.
Rawal is currently looking for more volunteers, and donors are always welcome and appreciated.
“Please volunteer your time and efforts as the seniors need your help,” Rawal said. “You will be amazed at how rewarding this is!”