Group volunteers bring the outside community in

Natalie Thoresen with Jennifer Rich

Volunteers play an essential role at 2Life Communities. Through our Group Service Days, they also create connections with the broader community beyond our walls. Throughout the year, volunteers from area businesses and organizations come to 2Life campuses for Group Service Days, supporting residents and staff in a variety of ways.

“Our Group Volunteer partners typically send 10 to 15 of their staff for a one-day service opportunity at various events. It gives us the ability to have enough hands to get the work done,” says Natalie Thoresen, 2Life’s volunteer program manager. Thoresen adds that the Group Volunteer program aligns with many organizations’ goals for community engagement. In many cases, participating organizations have an existing relationship with 2Life and a shared belief in our mission.

"In one case, a staff member of a partner organization is on our board of directors. We've also had 2Life vendors as group volunteers. Having that connection to our mission makes it more meaningful." - Natalie Thoresen

Group Volunteers help in a variety of ways to make 2Life events successful. For example, law firm Nixon Peabody sent a group of volunteers to our Brighton campus during our Fall Festival. They assisted with everything from serving food to carnival games to tie-dye T-shirt making. “The volunteers gave us the support needed to pull off one of our larger events,” Thoresen says, noting that one resident said it was the best event they had been to in years.

Volunteers from Point32Health, a foundation that has provided grant funding to 2Life, helped at the recent Shillman House “12th birthday” celebration. Twelve volunteers served food, assisted residents, and helped with setup and cleanup, reducing the burden on 2Life staff.

For Margi Piotrowski, a project manager for Point32Health, the experience was a memorable one. “Since I grew up in Framingham, I felt a special connection to the residents,” she says. “In addition, I realized that my grandmother lived at a different 2Life residence over 20 years ago! Most of all, I enjoyed having the opportunity to eat lunch with the residents and learn a little about their lives. I would love to have the chance to continue to volunteer and hear more about their life stories and learn from their wisdom and experiences.”

Thoresen notes that 2Life collaborates with volunteering organizations to find opportunities that fit their objectives and, in some cases, their skill sets. For example, two technology vendors, Extreme Networks and Harbor Networks, sent volunteers to our Shirley Meadows campus for a Tech Café event recently, helping residents with their technology questions and issues.

“This also was a social event for residents,” says Thoresen. “They came and had their questions answered, but then stayed to have a cup of coffee and visit with the volunteers.”

Thoresen is looking to expand the program gradually, eventually hosting an annual Group Service Day at every 2Life campus. While having the extra hands is always welcome, Thoresen emphasizes that the Group Volunteer program provides something even more valuable:

“It’s about promoting community connection and expanding our walls to welcome the community in.”

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