Unexpected Changes in the Winter of North Carolina


Thanisshka Lognathan, Staff Reporter

The arrival of Winter can be shown in many ways. To some people, winter has arrived when   families unite together in holidays like Christmas and New Year. For others, winter can simply mean that the weather gets a tad colder while you’ll need to wear more layers. But no matter what, winter is always about giving and creating changes. 

Winter changes people, and people create changes in winter as well. For me personally,  one of the small changes I have partaken this winter is visiting retirement homes in the communities in Raleigh, North Carolina (NC).  

As I first flew up to NC over Winter Break, I didn’t expect much. I thought that it would have the same community and weather as Dallas. Not only that, I thought that my friends would not have any idea of what to do this winter as well. However, when I asked my friends what their New Year’s resolution was, they surprisingly responded with “visiting a retirement home”. It was far from my perception of a holiday plan, since none of my friends and I have ever visited a retirement home before. However, we still decided to go. 

In short, retirement homes are places older people stay after they have retired. The one we visited, The Cardinal at North Hills, is a newly created Nursing Home in Raleigh, North Carolina. It is a place where people come to visit their older relatives in their family as many caretakers attend to them. 

Before coming to the volunteer event, we were told to bring homemade food of any category so we decided to prepare a variety of meats, pasta, sandwiches, burgers and more. As we arrived at the facility, we all started to gather around a table to set up the food while also passing out plates so that every person can enjoy the meal. Then, our group plated for everyone based on their preferences, and we patiently waited on the side as they started to rejoice in the food. 

Not long after, I heard the older residents’s chat about how their Christmas. They talked about the activities they’ve done with their family and conversations filled with happiness were heard all across the room. However, some seniors said that  they never got to see their sons and daughters as they were too busy with college and their jobs, while others said that they couldn’t visit their grandkids because of COVID-19.  Many of the volunteers, including my friends, began to notice the melancholic undertone that is often hidden under the joyful surface of the holiday season. Feelings of loneliness and homesickness also filled the hearts of these seniors. Instead of actual activities they’ve done, the conversation was filled with unfulfilled wishes and longing. 

As the conversation began, another lady came to the table. When my friend got her a plate, the woman smiled and asked my friend the reason she is visiting a retirement home at this time of year. This question was quite unexpected, but I wanted to hear this answer. My friend paused a bit and said that she hadn’t seen her own grandparents in another country for a long time,  so she felt the same kind of longing and sadness as some of the seniors here. However, instead of sitting in her house reminiscing, she wanted to help out and visit people who may be experiencing the same thing with their family during this critical time. 

The conversation continued, however the crowd seemed to all quiet down. They all started listening to me and my friends 

When it was my turn, I said that coming to a retirement home was a new experience for me. Nevertheless, I believe that winter break is a time of change. By coming to this retirement home, I believe that I am also making a change during this season.  The people seated at the table seemed very pleased with the response. However, they might not know that as I was volunteering for them, my unfulfilled holiday wishes were changed too. 

We knew they appreciated it, but they didn’t know how much we appreciated their presence as well.

As our meeting was coming to an end, the residents all came to thank us for stopping by, and told us to come back next time during the holidays. We told them we were appreciative of their time as we walked out. In my heart, I also said to myself that we are definitely going to make this a new tradition of ours. 

Winter in North Carolina wasn’t the usual. Not only was the weather warmer, my heart was also getting warmer as well.