My name is Saul Perez, I attend Mountain View High School, I am 16 years of age, and I’ve been volunteering with Mending the Gap for 2 years with the Bridge program.
As I walked into the room, it was filled with pictures and small materials. Everything around Joe was very technological: laptop and an echo that he could, with his voice, control the television. It was definitely a sight to see. Joe himself was a very kind, likable, and overall a nice human being once I got to know him.
Unfortunately for Joe, the neck down of his body was paralyzed. I introduced myself as a high school “reporter”, jotting down information about patients and that’s how it all started to be honest. I told him that I relished several family pictures around his vicinity and asked him to elaborate on it. Joe said that he loves his family and that although they don’t always visit him, they do from time to time and he really appreciates that type of love. He has 3 brothers and a sister as well as 3 sons and a daughter.
Also another aspect I noted within all his stuff he had around, were bobble heads of baseball players. He told me that he was a Atlanta Braves fan until they declined in quality over the past years and had currently been very fond of the Boston Red Sox. As we transitioned from funny and obscure talk, I wanted to know more about Joe that people from just looking at the surface would not know.
He told me something that really struck me; Joe told me that without a positive mindset he wouldn’t be where he was. He hadn’t told me how long he was paralyzed for but his statement communicated to me that regardless of how long it had been, it was severely difficult to him and having a positive mindset was pivotal to him. I agreed with Joe, positivity can really push you in a right way. I even added that many people nowadays take a lot of stuff for granted. Things like: walking, breathing, seeing, smelling, hearing could be seen to some people as “default” but that’s obviously not true.
I learned quickly that for me, I should never take anything for granted because what I have right now could certainly change at any point. I also learned that a positive mindset will give you motivation to strive to be a better person. The experience I shared with Mr. Joe taught me something very valuable that I will never forget. Mending the Gap has truly opened my mind towards the perception of the elderly.
Before MTG, I wouldn’t necessarily say I had a negative outlook on the elderly but it was just the fact that I never really had the opportunity to spend quality time with them and get to know them. Mending the Gap as I aforementioned helped me broaden my idea of the elderly and understand the essence of being a senior. In addition, it’s helped me cherish and respect every senior I meet. In regards to the seniors themselves, just look at their expressions when we come in to the facility. It cannot be understated the significance and the pure happiness they convey when they see us. I think our young, vibrant, and energetic personalities as teenagers makes the seniors feel young again in a way or at least makes them feel a part of something special.
I grateful to you for giving me this opportunity. Thank you very much.