Clark Morehouse, a retired TV advertising manager, finds the two hours a week he spends in spirited conversation with older adults meaningful and rewarding.

Every week, Clark Morehouse spends two hours at The New Jewish Home’s Westchester campus, excited to engage in conversations with the older adult residents who live there. This important volunteer work gives his own life meaning and makes a difference in the lives of the people he visits.

He arrives at the campus each Thursday morning at 10 a.m. and heads for the Pavilion, where residents live in “small house”-style residential environments. There he visits three women with whom his conversations have evolved into an informal Bible study group. Clark himself attends a men’s Bible study class every week, so he brings discussion ideas with him on Thursdays. “I’m well known on the floor,” he said. “They call me ‘Reverend’ because I bring a Bible with me, but I’m not ordained.”

Mrs. Spencer, one of the women he visits, looks forward to Clark’s weekly visits and their conversations about God. “He is a man of faith and knows the Bible,” she said.

Next, Clark visits a man who lives on the first floor, one of the first residents he met when he began volunteering. They have developed a rewarding friendship over the years that they have known each other. “He has macular degeneration and his hearing is failing, but he’s got lots of opinions,” Clark said. He was a lawyer and a judge—and he’s a baseball fan—and we spend some quality time together.”

Clark, 72, lives in Larchmont, about ten minutes from the campus. He and his wife of 47 years raised three children, and he had a fulfilling career running ad sales units for companies that produce TV programs. “When I finally retired, I needed something to do,” he said. His daughter had worked at The New Jewish Home, Sarah Neuman when she was in high school, and in December 2018 Clark began volunteering twice a week. “The volunteer coordinators would steer me toward people they thought would benefit from companionship,” he said.

His own family life has offered Clark rich opportunities to know and speak with older adults. “I was lucky—three of my grandparents lived long and healthy lives. And between my wife’s mom and dad and my parents,  we were very connected to all four of them, and I have great memories.” Those life experiences, combined with his professional expertise, gave him the confidence and ease to engage in conversations with older adults he didn’t know—but with whom he quickly established meaningful connections.

The COVID-19 pandemic put a temporary pause on Clark’s volunteer activities, but he returned as soon as he could. ”I missed it,” he said, “Once they opened up again to volunteers, I started going back on Thursdays.” Along with the permanent residents he visits, Clark also drops in on people who are there temporarily for post-surgery rehabilitation therapy. He commented that he has noticed that many of the caregivers he observes have developed deep relationships with the patients they care for.

Assessing his own abilities as a volunteer, Clark said, “I’m very personable; I made a living talking to people. I can act as a sounding board for people who have had interesting lives and want someone to talk to,” he said. “That’s what makes this volunteer work so meaningful for me. When I leave the nursing home at noon on Thursdays, I feel really good. I’ve gotten as much as I’ve given.”

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