Volunteering Together: Oaks Residents Give Their Time to Benefit Community, World

May 31, 2019

Volunteer Full

Nina Russell chooses her words carefully as she writes sentiments on the inside of cards to be sent to U.S. servicemen and women stationed overseas.

Recognizing that those in the military like to be reminded of the difference his or her service is making, Russell offers words of encouragement and thanks for the sacrifices being made.

The cards, an Omega Alpha Kappa (OAK) service project, no doubt brighten up the day of deployed military personnel who receive them, but they also stir up treasured memories and emotions for Russell. Her late husband, Gerald, was a career serviceman in the United States Army. He passed away in July 2011.

Volunteering has always been part of Russell’s life, whether at her church or children’s schools. When Independent Living Activity Manager Laura Schlidt organized The Oaks of Louisiana’s first official service fraternity – OAK – Russell didn’t hesitate to join.

“Volunteering is a meaningful and rewarding way to help others,” she says.

Schlidt created the fraternity to ensure residents maintain relationships with the community outside the perimeters of The Oaks.

“It’s important that when individuals retire to a community like The Oaks that they do not lose touch with the world outside,” Schlidt says.

Research shows individuals who engage in volunteering activities have a greater sense of purpose and accomplishment. There is less feeling of isolation and depression.

OAK volunteer projects, beside sending cards to soldiers, have included packing shoeboxes for underprivileged children, promoting a toy and supply drive for children of Vietnam, and sewing projects, among others. Members also continue their work helping local non-profits like Volunteers of America, Meals on Wheels and local religious groups.

“The enthusiasm this group has for their purpose is moving,” Schlidt says. “It is great when individuals from different backgrounds, with different strengths and with varied opinions come together for the common good of others. Seeing people do just because it is the right thing to do sets examples for subsequent generations. Our members give generously of their time to support our projects and causes.”