Laura Kirschenbaum was raised in a family that believes giving time for the benefit of others is a worthy priority. Both of her parents, involved in small organizations that help student athletes, musicians and many others, passed on the passion to get involved.
Kirschenbaum begun her volunteering at Burke Rehabilitation Center where her Grandfather received treatment. She then decided to volunteer her time while in high school to , where her great aunt was a resident.
Always wanting to come back and volunteer while she was away at college in Ohio, she was delighted to make her return this past summer, much to the joy of some of the very same residents who she worked with back in High School.
“My great aunt really enjoyed her time at Willow Towers so I wanted to give back to the place that made her so happy,” Kirschenbaum explained. “What was truly amazing was that some of the residents actually remembered me and that makes me feel very good.”
Currently, Kirschenbaum works full-time for a small tutoring company, but because she works afternoons, she is able to give a few mornings a week to Willow Towers. She works with seniors in the recreation department, even bringing in her dog Elvis to hang out with the residents one day a week, which she says relaxes residents and gives them a chance to play with the lovable pooch.
“Dogs give unconditional love, and they love attention so I think pet therapy is incredibly rewarding,” Kirschenbaum said.
“Right now, working with patients who have dementia, the fact that one of them remembered that Elvis was my dog after a few weeks of him consistently coming here was both rewarding to me as a volunteer and I think to the resident as well.”
The benefit of the recreation department at Willow Towers is one of great importance, she says. It keeps them active, talking and even meeting new people. Having a positive attitude is the best medicine, according to Kirschenbaum.
It has always been important, now and when she began working with the seniors in High School, to not only participate in existing programs, but to add something new and to challenge the seniors both mentally and physically.
“It is so easy to give back and so many ways to do it, but for me and my family, donating our time to a cause is how we choose to give back,” Kirschenbaum said.