The Associated for the Aged hosted a special event today to close out its Mandela Month observations with a treat for the non-profit's long standing volunteers.
The med under the banner "Christmas in July", the volunteer treat event at Tafta Lodge this year took on the format of a special lunch. Every year, the organisation brings its volunteers together to say thank you for reaching out to its residents.
Known as Tafta's "Angels of Love" these noble souls reach out in aid of hundreds of lonely senior citizens with a commitment of friendship to those who are most in need.
"For many elders, who have been abandoned by their families, old age signals a desolate reality - one of loneliness, loss of independence and depression.
Left to live the remainder of their days with little hope of a phone call or visit from loved ones, these often forgotten members of society harbour a longing to feel loved. But through the selfless service of local volunteers, Tafta's residents are given the crucial "gift of love", said Femada Shamam, Tafta Chief Executive Officer.
These "do-gooders" visit Tafta's old age homes frequently offering nothing more than their time, companionship and some welcomed conversation - a seemingly small gesture with an extraordinary impact.
Volunteer Thomas Davis has been involved with Tafta since 1994. He says being a Tafta volunteer makes his life far more meaningful as he ages: "Volunteerism I would say is in the genes, but Tafta in particular has meant a lot to me as I see it as a way in which I can honour my parents and their legacy by reaching out to serve the elders".
Dana Sorour has been volunteering with Tafta for the past 4 years but her association with the organisation goes 17 years back when he mother Dee moved into one of the organisation's residences. "I think people underestimate the feeling you experience when you reach out to help others through volunteering at places like Tafta. Tafta plays such a vital role in older people's lives in terms of allowing them to have a continued quality of life as they age and I get such immeasurable reward from just being able to play such a vital part in the well-being of these people".
For many elders, a glimpse of the volunteers' friendly faces is the highlight of their week and the cherished moments shared with a caring stranger is a reminder that they are loved and appreciated.
For some it evokes memories of their own families, of children who are now adults and of grandchildren whom they have never met but for all of the elders these visits are a wonderful reassurance that they belong.