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Volunteering and Decoupage

Today I went to check out a west Berkeley nursing facility for the elderly, to see if I might want to volunteer there. The population is less physically able than some of the other seniors I've worked with, but they're in a similar age range (mostly 80's and 90's). The facility is a couple miles away (down by where Shannon and I saw the unicycling basketball team a couple years ago, which I did write about in this journal), in a not-great neighborhood, and I didn't see anywhere safe to lock a bike, so I guess I'll be walking both ways once a week.

What their volunteer coordinator was primarily looking for right now was someone to play Scrabble one-on-one with one of their residents, a woman named Barbara. She has MS and has become physically unable to get around as much as she used to, and so she hasn't been making it to the group activities, such as the Scrabble she enjoys, so they were looking for someone to play with her in her room.

I didn't really get a feel for her when I met her today, since it was fairly brief, but I'll be going back next week for our first game, and I assume we'll get to know each other better then.

It'll be strange to play Scrabble again, since I haven't in several years, and for the last year or so I've played Words With Friends (which is similar but slightly different) pretty much every day. I'll have to readjust. But the volunteer coordinator warned me that Barbara has some "unique" rules when she plays, so perhaps I should just abandon what I learned in the past and let her explain the game to me afresh.

Tomorrow I have a phone interview with the volunteer coordinator at another facility for the elderly, though I'm less confident about that location, because it focuses on care for those with "the fewest options," e.g., the poor. I have no problem working with people of any financial status, but I worry that a facility that cares primarily for those of limited means will be more dehumanizing, and I wouldn't be able to deal with that very easily. But I'm keeping an open mind, and will wait to see. Maybe the facility and the staff are respectful and compassionate -- you never know. But since I'll only be with Barbara an hour or so a week, it might be kind of nice to have another visit to make with other folks at some other regular time. I had been hoping to put in more time in the same location, but Barbara's place seemed to only want someone for her specific purpose right now.


In other news, the last few days I've been working on decoupaging the top of a beat-up old dresser (well, a very small dresser, only two drawers high but normal width). I've been using it for years, and always wanting to do something to make it look nicer, but I never got around to it until now. For the past year or so, I've been covering it with an attractive scarf, but it made me always worried about putting the lube bottle directly on it (lest the scarf get slimed), and my bottle of hand lotion recently had a bit of an accident that resulted in an icky spot on the scarf. So I thought, "I really need to do something waterproof to the top of this thing." Hence, the recent decoupage. I'm using handmade papers I bought at an art store several months ago, and I've cut some in contrasting but complementary colors/patterns into strips of varying widths, so it's striped, but not uniformly so. When it's done, perhaps I will post a photo. Right now, all the paper has been applied, but I'm just applying successive layers of Mod Podge (a popular glue/sealer/finish for decoupage work) to protect the surface. I've done finishing 2 coats, and from what I've read I've got another couple coats to go. In the meantime, my office smells constantly of glue.

It's my first decoupage project ever, so I'm expecting that I will have made some mistakes I can avoid next time, but it's fun to finally be doing it! I've been thinking of decoupage projects for several months! Exciting!

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