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thank you volunteers

Volunteer Appreciation Month

Apr 3, 2024

The Gathering, coordinated by Avinity, seeks to provide stimulating programming for those experiencing early- to mid-stage memory loss in a safe and welcoming setting while their caregiver enjoys time for other priorities.  Oak Knoll Lutheran Church is our awesome hosting partner.

What is this “programming” you ask – and what does it have to do with appreciating volunteers?  Let me tell you!  The 5-hour themed session begins at 10:00am with coffee, treats (provided by Oak Knoll Church and served by our volunteers) and conversation.  After everyone is settled in, long-time lead volunteer Marj will direct everyone in our theme songs to get the group in the mood for a fun-filled day.  Next, long-time participant Bruce will enlighten us with one of his personally-written poems or tell us facts about the day, month or whatever the theme is for the day. 

After this, the Oak Knoll Preschool group comes to sing for us – what a delight!  Sometimes they stay and create something with the participants.  (Making Valentine’s Day cards with them was so much fun!) 

Now it’s time to work our brains with a “brain tease” from long-time lead volunteer Larry.  It usually takes both the participant and their assigned volunteer to figure these out!

Once we’ve got our brains fired up, there is a presentation – it could be anything from a history lesson from a Lowry Nature Center representative to a guest musician to a toy historian to a visit from the Minnetonka Fire Department.  You never know who will come, but it is always enlightening, entertaining or just plain fun!

At noon it’s time for lunch – we’ve sure worked up an appetite!  Lunch is provided by Avinity and ordered by long-time volunteer Diane who varies the menu so everyone gets a chance to eat their favorite.  Other long-time volunteers help prepare, serve, and clean up.  It’s like being at a restaurant!

After lunch, in case we might get food stupor, My Baun from Music Sense comes and leads us in rousing songs with movements that get our hands and feet moving and our blood flowing!

OK, time to catch our breath with an activity by long-time volunteer Martha.  You never know what “crafty” thing she has up her sleeve, but we know it will be fun!

Larry or Marj might quiz us next with facts about a recent holiday or themed month (do YOU know that blue was the first official color for St. Patrick’s Day in Ireland, not green!?)

Following that we might get some screen time with long-time volunteer Linda sharing some funny videos or “blasts from the past.”

We wind up our exciting day with a game (can you say Charades?) or challenge (those home-made puzzles were a great idea and who knew how Skittles would melt?) created by one of the volunteers.

Even though the five hours have been filled with so much fun, we MUST end our time with a joke, or two or more!  With our minds expanded and challenged, our bodies exercised, our hearts filled with joy the participants meet up with their caregivers to take them home.

Have you noticed how many times I used the words “long-time volunteer”?  Yes, nearly every volunteer in this program has been dedicated to it for over 10 years.  What does that tell you about the program and about them!?  Could we do this program without them?  I think you can see that that would be impossible.  So, thank you The Gathering volunteers.  Thank you from the bottom, top and middle of our hearts.  We are so very blessed to work with you in making this awesome program a success.

To learn more about this amazing program, click here.  You will also see testimonials from our participants and their caregivers showing just how much the participants enjoy and look forward to their bi-monthly visits and how much their caregivers appreciate that their loved one is in a safe, entertaining environment while they attend to other tasks (or just rest).

Maybe you’d like to join this fantastic group of volunteers who give their heart and soul and time and passion.  Give me a call!  Let me leave you with this feedback from one of our dear participants:

“The volunteers are so friendly and there are one or two volunteers for each member, so we get a lot of individual attention at every session. When I am in the group, I can forget that anything is wrong and just be myself and the others can be themselves too. It’s a friendly group of regular people doing things together.” 


Written by Mary, The Gathering Coordinator, 612.243.4591


Thank you for reading our article.  If you would like more information about Avinity click here, or about our Communities, here.