Learn about May’s story…

May immigrated to the United States from Malaysia in 1974. She lives alone, has never married and has no children.  She worked for over 30 years as a housekeeper and nanny, and after she retired, she felt lonely and isolated.

“I was 60 years old when my doctor told me I had to retire,” says May, who is now 74 years old. “I felt very alone. I didn’t like to just sit around all day.”

May was living in Franklin Plaza Apartments, a Mitchell Lama co-op development in East Harlem. One day, when she was not feeling very well, she went to get her blood pressure taken by a nurse at the Union Settlement NORC (Naturally Occurring Retirement Community) office.

“I met Queenie, a case manager at Union Settlement, who asked me if I would like to volunteer in our office?” explained May. “I said I would be happy to volunteer!”

After that meeting, May’s life was forever changed for the better.

May’s involvement with our NORC program, which is located right in Franklin Plaza, improved her life by reducing her social isolation and making her, in her words, “a better person.”

“May is an indispensable member of our NORC,” says Melanie Kane, the Director of Union Settlement’s NORC program. “May sits on the Advisory Committee and the Trip Committee, and she also volunteers in the office three times a week.  She recruits new members, books trips for seniors, works reception, files papers and provides phone reassurance to the more frail and homebound seniors. I don’t know what we would do without her.”

I feel so much happier now. The seniors tell me their problems and it’s very rewarding to help them,” says May. “Whenever I see a senior sitting outside I go to them and ask them to come inside. I love people. I love to help.”

Learn more on how to support May, and the other 9,999 residents of East Harlem that Union Settlement supports each year.