Process, as Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines, is a natural phenomenon marked by gradual changes that lead to a result. However, this word usually carries a negative connotation such as the process of cleaning out a disorderly closet or the process of carrying out a complicated multi-step math problem. Looking back on my 9 year relationship with Sweet Readers, I can attest that processes can be beautiful, meaningful and positive.
I was only a sixth-grader when I started volunteering for Sweet Readers, a non-profit that pairs students with elderly individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease. When I was assigned to Sheila, my primary objective was to see the person behind the disease. Together, we composed Haiku poetry, colored portraits with crayons, and created the most enchanting swans out of mere paper. We laughed like two little girls, joyfully setting the table for an imaginary tea party. It was amazing to see the youthful attributes of Sheila being rejuvenated through the arts.
My service to Sheila marked a period of personal growth in my life. Through introspection, I gained a deeper understanding of myself and the role I am to play in bringing positive impact to the lives of others. I was not just a Sweet Readers volunteer who showed up to read with Sheila on Thursday evenings. In the eyes of this special woman, I was a friend.
However, this experience was definitely a process for the both us. Some days it was frustrating when Sheila did not remember the joyous memories we shared together. However, most visits, I witnessed extreme progress. I must admit that it was not Sheila alone who benefited from my commitment to Sweet Readers. We both did.
Being a Sweet Reader was a major learning process for me. I was able to engage and connect with an individual that I thought I had nothing in common with, but I came to understand through each and every visit how we similar we both were in our interests and values. I was able to further develop my interpersonal skills. However, most of all, Sweet Readers has been the gateway that has given me confidence and curiosity to be myself and pursue my dreams. I am currently pursuing a career in medicine while majoring in Art history and continuing service work both at home and in my college community.
As Cheryl James says, “Change is not an event, it’s a process”. Sweet Readers molded me into the person I am today, and I am grateful to have been a part of this exhilarating and life-changing experience. Now when I think of the word process, dirty dishes and math problems do not come to mind. I think of a metamorphosizing process similar to what a butterfly undergoes. Starting the program, I was a nervous 13-year-old volunteer, and today I am confident in myself and aspire to be a global agent of change. All thanks to Sweet Readers, this process has given me my wings to fly.