Helping America's Most Vulnerable

Volunteering Brings Joy, Rewards to All

Gail Rouen brightens lives at Terraces on Tulane

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Every Thursday, you can find New Orleanian Gail Rouen at Terraces on Tulane, our Mid-City housing facility for seniors. Rouen began volunteering earlier this year. "I hit it off with everyone," she says enthusiastically. "Their stories melt my heart. I love listening to them and hearing about their backgrounds."

Rouen's interest in volunteering was piqued at a Volunteers of America Greater New Orleans breakfast, which she attended with a group from her husband's company. Soon, she was volunteering at the Terraces, which serves lower-income persons 62 and over. Her assignment: be a friendly helper, doing whatever residents need, be it light housekeeping or sharing a meal. She quickly discovered she and the residents enjoyed their time together.

The staff then asked if she would take on a special project, working with resident Ronald, known for creating art from everyday objects. His apartment was overfilled with his late mother's belongings and other items. Rouen began helping him sort out what to keep.

"We have a wonderful relationship," she says. "We trust each other and have wonderful conversations." All the while, Ronald's apartment is being cleared and organized, with Rouen taking things he no longer needs to charity.

"Gail is God-sent," Ronald exclaims. "She was sent to me right on time." Ronald, who has lived at the Terraces for five years, remembers how depressed he was over his mother's death. "I know how to clean and organize, I just couldn't do it. Gail helped me see things better. She's become a good friend and is highly intelligent. I don't have to Google, I just ask Gail."

Rouen encourages others to volunteer. "The rewards are so great. You feel like you're doing something worthwhile. You can work out a plan to give however much time you have."