SHARE GIFT USA was Founded By Annabelle and Madeline with Mike Larson, Paralympic Judo Instructor
“Volunteering, plain and simple, is good for the heart and the soul.”
by Annabelle Choi
When we first moved to the Bay Area, my sister and I were looking for a way to continue giving back to the community through Share Gift. Through a series of coincidences, we ended up meeting Katelyn at Cupertino Healthcare and Wellness Center. We became volunteers at the Center the very next week. That was more than two years ago.
It was a bit awkward at first. We had a huge learning curve to overcome as we became familiar with new residents, their diseases and how best to help them. We soon learned a very important fact: these residents were people — just like us. Over time, we came to the realization that giving yourself doesn’t require big grandiose gestures, but more often than not, the smallest acts meant the most to people. Sitting and talking, holding a hand, asking about one’s day, opening mail, organizing files, or even just straightening up an area of the room was a huge help to the residents. As minimal as these efforts seemed to us, we soon realized these small gestures had the biggest impact. Residents with Center have the same cognitive abilities as you and me, but their muscles stop working, so their ability to move, eat, and sometimes even breathe is compromised. That’s where volunteers can really make a difference. It’s not that these individuals don’t want to pick up that piece of mail that has fallen on the floor; they simply can’t. These small acts mean the world to a resident.
After weeks of volunteering, our visits to the Center began to feel more like going “home.” In fact, we looked forward to seeing the residents — we laughed, enjoyed each other’s company, watched movies, and participated in activities such as decorating gingerbread houses. We even read the paper together. In all of our time spent with the Cupertino Healthcare and Wellness residents, there was not one single time that my peers at Share Gift and I did not feel like a million bucks. No matter how tired or cranky we may have been when we first arrived, we left each day with a full heart. Volunteering, plain and simple, is good for the heart and the soul.
I look at the volunteers who have been with the Center since I started working here, and I marvel at their commitment to our residents. When I ask them why they do it, they usually just smile and say it’s a nice thing to do for people who need kindness the most. They enjoy the environment and love being a part of something bigger than themselves. If only more people in the world understood the power of volunteering, the world would be a much nicer place.
SHARE GIFT WAS FOUNDED IN 2015
Annabelle Choi. Hyunji Lee. Eungyul Go. Madeline Choi.
Founders will be attending Stanford University Pre-Med Program, Seoul National University Pre-Dental Program, and Seoul National University Environmental Science in 2021. They will continue their volunteer journey throughout the college, and contribute their efforts to the global community.