Kevin Johnson, Services Now for Adult Persons
Kevin Johnson was looking for a way to give back that fit with his busy schedule and fun-loving personality. Being a bingo caller for the nonprofit organization Services Now for Adult Persons, he's able to have fun and help homebound seniors in a very real way - virtually.
As far as volunteering goes, Kevin Johnson knows his stuff. After all, you don't get to be Community Support Manager at VolunteerMatch without being somewhat of an expert on how to give back. Kevin used his specialized knowledge to find a volunteering gig that is a perfect fit for his fun-loving, quirky personality, and has rekindled a passion for helping others that he first learned from his father.
In August 2011 Kevin decided to start walking the walk. He didn't have a lot of free time, and wasn't able to travel long distances. Fortunately, from working at VolunteerMatch he knew all about virtual volunteering, so he searched the platform for a recurring volunteer opportunity that he could perform from any location.
Kevin found an opportunity posted by Services Now for Adult Persons (SNAP), looking for someone to call a virtual bingo game for homebound seniors. He may have looked twice at such a unique listing, but it didn't take long for Kevin to hit that green "I want to help button" on VolunteerMatch and sign up for the opportunity.
"Growing up, my father was a regular visitor to seniors in our community that weren't able to leave their homes," says Kevin. " I saw this as an opportunity to do the same thing in a different way."
SNAP is based in Queens Village, New York, and fulfills two important needs in the community: The organization helps active senior citizens find volunteer opportunities and ways to give back, and recruits any age volunteers to assist homebound seniors with their everyday needs.
SNAP runs a conference call program that enables seniors to participate in activities they enjoy, while speaking with others who hold the same interests. Kevin's bingo games are a part of this program.
Kevin knew that this particular volunteer activity would be different from what he was used to - but he didn't realize how much fun it would be. "The best stories related to bingo are the jokes and banter among the players during the games," he shares. Over time, friendly rivalries have developed between the players, as well as great call and response traditions when certain numbers are called. Kevin says it never fails to make the games more entertaining. "For instance," he explains, "If I call N-40, I can expect to hear ‘Here comes shorty!' If I call G-55, I hear ‘Double nickels and can't spend 'em.' And of course, when I call B-4, I hear ‘And after!'"
SNAP provides bingo cards to the players, and they play for an hour every Wednesday, led by Kevin. He tallies the scores at the end and sends them to SNAP. The players then receive small prizes along with their meal deliveries.
It's been over a year now, and Kevin has no plans to give up his bingo-calling volunteer gig. "I look forward to the game each week and have just as much fun as the players," he says. He hears from SNAP on a regular basis about how much the players enjoy the friendly competition.
So even though he can't see them, Kevin understands the difference he's making in the lives of these homebound seniors. And when it comes to volunteering, it's hard to beat something that's fun and meaningful - unless you've got a BINGO.
Services Now for Adult Persons
SNAP provides direct services to enhance the quality of life of older adults. They also provide coordination of case plans, advocacy and linkages to community resources to assist them and to prevent premature institutionalization.
Services Now for Adult Persons
80-45 Winchester Blvd Bldg. #4, CBU #29
Queens Village, N.Y. 11427
Check out SNAP opportunities at VolunteerMatch.
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