One of our regular stops is the Veterans Affairs Hospital in Philadelphia or the VA as it is commonly known. Maggie and I have been visiting twice a month for the past three years. We meet our "friend" Sadie and her human partner Steve (they have been visiting much longer then we have). Maggie and Sadie have become known there and many of the residents have treats waiting for them. The VA is split up by departments and floors. We are assigned specific areas and are always accompanied by one of the recreation staff who are a delight to be around. They know their way around and many of the residents by name.
I will tell you the first time I signed up to visit the VA I did not know what it would be like and upon entering the hospital I had a rude awakening. Many of the residents are wheel chair bound with missing limbs. The smells can also be a little unsettling if you are not accustomed to a hospital setting. Needless to say after my first visit I walked out and said to myself I would not go back.
I slept on it and upon waking the next day questioned my motives of giving up so easily. With my life so blessed and easy compared to the residents of the VA why not push myself out of my comfort zone? Isn't that the purpose of giving back?
So I found myself signing up for the next visit. When I got to the front door I took a deep breath and put a smile on my face. Well the hour went by quickly. I focused on the smiles on the resident's faces when they saw Maggie. The joy took over any misgivings I might have had and three years later I have no regrets.