April 22, 2021
My wife and I met and were married in Connecticut. We started our family there, but we missed Maine. After our first child was born, we moved back to the Bucksport area. When our children had grown and started families of their own in Southern Maine, we moved to Saco to be closer to them. My wife and I were getting acclimated to the area and we attended a concert in Buxton. We struck up a conversation with another couple, and by chance I’d reached out to and got involved with Age Friendly Saco. That involvement led to volunteering with the Saco Food Pantry.
I have volunteered many hours with Age Friendly Saco and have been helping lead the charge organizing several of the Farmers to Families Food Box distributions during the pandemic. Our team of volunteers helps to organize the distributions in addition to loading, unloading and giving out the food. I also volunteer with the Saco Food Pantry so I've been able to utilize my connections with them and the community to make sure everyone is aware of these offerings.
One of the best experiences I’ve had with Age Friendly Saco, is the COVID program we started last September. We recognized the isolation and lack of connection the elderly were feeling, and their challenges with connection through technology. We started a program where we purchased 25 tablets to give out to people. With that, training was a necessary component. I had the privilege of assisting an 84 year old woman who’d never done anything with a computer. Being pent up, she decided she wanted to learn. She was a peach to work with and embraced the opportunity with kindness and humor. I spent close to 40 hours with her and it was so lovely to just speak with and get to know her.
Through the years, I’ve been identified as a man with a rough exterior; I’m loud and that turns some people off and they kind of cringe. I wish more people knew that I’m just a big teddy bear of a man and that I’m not the first impression. I think that’s why I enjoy and get so much pleasure in volunteering. I can get to know people, and in turn they get to know me.
In general, volunteering is simply a good match for me. I really enjoy people from different cultures and backgrounds; I guess you could call that nosy, but I’d call it a curiosity and passion for people. When I’m volunteering, I always receive more than I give, that’s what makes it so special.
- Sheldon Nightingale, Age Friendly Saco & Saco Food Pantry Volunteer